and Mendez parties regarding the Hispanic community on the northwest side of Chicago and of the Gardner parties regarding African-American and Hispanic communities elsewhere around the state.
III. 14th and 15th Amendments
The Gardner parties, in Count IV of their amended counterclaim, allege that the state-approved redistricting plan violates their equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment and their voting rights under the 15th Amendment. In support of these claims, they relied upon the same evidence that was introduced regarding their Voting Rights Act claims.
Racially motivated drawing of redistricting lines, if intended to minimize or cancel the voting strength of a racial minority, violates both the 14th Amendment equal protection clause and the 15th Amendment. City of Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55, 62-66, 64 L. Ed. 2d 47, 100 S. Ct. 1490 (1980); Hastert, 777 F.Supp. at 645; see also Beer v. United States, 425 U.S. 130, 142, 47 L. Ed. 2d 629, 96 S. Ct. 1357 n.14 (1976) (noting that the Supreme Court has never found a reapportionment plan in violation of the 15th Amendment). The court, however, as discussed previously, finds that the state-approved map does not illegally cancel or weaken the voting strength of African-American or Hispanic voters. Additionally, we find a lack of evidence that the Redistricting Commission was motivated by racial concerns or that the map which the Illinois Supreme Court approved was drawn along racial lines. See Wright v. Rockefeller, 376 U.S. 52, 56-57, 11 L. Ed. 2d 512, 84 S. Ct. 603 (1964). Therefore, in addition to failing to prove a discriminatory effect for 14th and 15th Amendment purposes, the Gardner parties have also failed to prove a discriminatory motive as required under those amendments. The court accordingly finds for the Redistricting Commission and Reed on Count IV of the Gardner parties' counterclaim.
IV. Declaratory Judgment
The Redistricting Commission and Reed have pursued their complaint for a declaratory judgment under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202 finding that the redistricting plan approved by the Illinois Supreme Court is valid under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. In light of the evidence in this case, and as discussed above, the court finds that the state-approved plan does not violate the rights of minority voters under the § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, or the 14th or 15th Amendments. Additionally, there is an actual case or controversy regarding the validity of the state-approved plan in view of the opposition to that plan at trial by the Gardner and Mendez parties, as well as the Task Force defendants. See Atlanta Int'l Ins. Co. v. Atchison, T. and S. F. R. Co., 938 F.2d 81, 83 (7th Cir. 1991) (actual controversy required before federal court can exercise its discretionary power to issue declaratory judgments). The court deems it appropriate to issue the declaratory relief requested by the Redistricting Commission and Reed, and the state-approved redistricting plan is therefore declared to be in compliance with the applicable federal law and constitutional provisions.
The court finds, based on the record as a whole, that the redistricting plan for the Illinois General Assembly approved by the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Committee and the Illinois Supreme Court complies with the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment. The plan provides a meaningful opportunity for minority voters to elect candidates of their choice in areas where this opportunity is warranted by their population numbers, and does not intentionally discriminate along racial lines.
Consequently, the court finds for plaintiff/counter-defendants Redistricting Commission and Reed on Counts I and IV of the Gardner defendant/counter-plaintiffs' counterclaim, and on the Mendez defendant/counter-plaintiffs' counterclaim; Counts II and III of the Gardner defendants' counterclaim are dismissed; and the state-approved redistricting plan is declared valid under the applicable federal law and constitutional provisions. The Redistricting Commission and Reed's motion for summary judgment is denied to the extent it seeks to bar the Gardner and Mendez counterclaims on grounds of res judicata and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, and is otherwise rendered moot by the court's judgment.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, Sr., Judge
United States District Court