The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.
Before KANNE, Circuit Judge, NORGLE, District Judge, and ZAGEL, District Judge
Before the court are the plaintiff/counter-defendants' third amended complaint seeking a declaratory judgment upholding the validity of a redistricting plan for the Illinois General Assembly approved by the Illinois Supreme Court on January 14, 1992, and counterclaims by two sets of defendant/counter-plaintiffs challenging parts of that redistricting plan. A trial was conducted on February 4 through 7, and 11, 1992, after which the parties filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Also pending before the court is the plaintiff/counter-defendants' motion for summary judgment. For reasons that follow, judgment is entered for the plaintiff/counter-defendants and against the defendant/counter-plaintiffs on all claims.
The current claims are the latest arising from efforts to redistrict the Illinois General Assembly following the 1990 federal census. The Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission and its Republican majority members (the "Redistricting Commission") filed the first complaint on October 4, 1991 in this court, seeking a declaration that the redistricting plan passed by the commission that day complied with relevant federal and state laws.
A parallel case, challenging the redistricting plan, was filed by the Illinois Attorney General on October 11, 1991 in the Illinois Supreme Court. That court remanded the redistricting plan to the Redistricting Commission on December 13, 1991 for hearings and consideration of alternative plans. People ex rel. Burris v. Ryan, No. 72662, 167 Ill. Dec. 893, 1991 Ill. LEXIS 123, 588 N.E.2d 1023 (Ill. S. Ct. Dec. 13, 1991). The commission held hearings from January 4 through 6, 1992, and passed a modified redistricting plan on January 6, 1992. The Illinois Supreme Court approved the modified plan on January 10, 1992 and issued an opinion four days later explaining its ruling. People ex rel. Burris v. Ryan, No. 72662, 167 Ill. Dec. 903, 1992 Ill. LEXIS 1, 588 N.E.2d 1033 (Ill. S. Ct. Jan. 14, 1992).
The court-approved plan, which was supported by the Republican majority on the Redistricting Commission, created eighteen state House of Representatives districts and eight state Senate districts with African-American "super-majorities" (at least 65% of the population). The competing plan backed by the Commission's Democratic members provided for one less African-American super-majority House district and the same number of African-American super-majority Senate districts. Both the court-approved plan and its Democratic-backed alternative provided for four Hispanic super-majority districts in the House and two in the Senate.
Additionally, a group of African-American voters (the "Gardner counter-plaintiffs"), who had intervened in the proceedings before the Illinois Supreme Court and were named as defendants in the Redistricting Commission's third amended complaint, filed a counterclaim on January 17, 1992. The Gardner counterclaim included three counts, two of which were dismissed prior to the hearing.
The remaining Count I alleged two types of violations of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 et seq. First, it alleged the denial of African-American voters' "fair opportunity" to elect candidates of their choice in eight state House of Representatives districts (5, 6, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27 and 28) and three state Senate districts (3, 12 and 14) on the south side of Chicago, each of which have 65% or greater African-American populations. Second, it alleged diminution of minority voters' influence through "fracturing" of minority communities on the northwest side of Chicago (House District 33), where a 50% Hispanic district is possible, and in several areas with minority populations too small to constitute a majority in a district -- Leyden Township (House Districts 77 and 78), Waukegan (House Districts 59, 61 and 62), Aurora (House Districts 42 and 84), Rock Island-Quad Cities (House Districts 71 and 72) and Springfield (House Districts 99 and 100).
The Gardner counter-plaintiffs were granted leave on February 4, 1992 to file an amended counterclaim which added a "fracturing" claim for the Champaign-Urbana area (House Districts 103 and 104) to Count I and restated the previously dismissed Counts II and III.
The amended counterclaim also added Count IV alleging that the Redistricting Commission adopted its modified plan with the intention of discriminating against African-American and Hispanic voters in violation of these voters' 14th Amendment equal protection rights and their 15th Amendment voting rights.
A group of Hispanic voters (the "Mendez counter-plaintiffs"), some of whom had intervened in the Illinois Supreme Court case, filed a counterclaim on January 24, 1992, joining the "fracturing" claims of the Gardner parties with regard to the Hispanic communities on the northwest side of Chicago. This counterclaim also added "fracturing" claims for Hispanic communities on the southeast side of Chicago, in Leyden and Proviso Townships, Aurora and Waukegan. The Mendez parties, however, moved on January 31, 1992 to dismiss these latter claims voluntarily under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2), leaving only their northwest side "fracturing" claims at issue.
The five-day trial was conducted in a manner similar to that utilized in other redistricting cases, see, e.g., Hastert v. State Bd. of Elections, 777 F.Supp. 634, 639-40 (N.D. Ill. 1991) (three-judge panel) (and cases cited therein), with evidence submitted in the form of affidavits, depositions, maps, statistical data, and the testimony of three expert witnesses under direct and cross examination. Afterward, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and post-trial briefs, were filed by the plaintiff/counter-defendants Redistricting Commission and Reed, the Gardner defendant/counter-plaintiffs, the Mendez defendant/counter-plaintiffs, and a group of African-American defendants who have joined together as the Task Force for Black Political Empowerment (the "Task Force").
I. Res Judicata and Rooker-Feldman
The Redistricting Commission and Reed argued in their January 21, 1992 motion that the Gardner counterclaims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because the Gardner parties either raised, or could have raised, the same claims before the Illinois Supreme Court. The Commission also contended that the Gardner parties are attempting to appeal the Illinois court's ruling to this court, which deprives this court of subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See District of Columbia Ct. of Apps. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482, 103 S. Ct. 1303, 75 L. Ed. 2d 206 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416, 68 L. Ed. 362, 44 S. Ct. 149 (1923). The court's January 24 opinion, dismissing Counts II and III of the counterclaim, reserved ruling on the res judicata and Rooker-Feldman issues. Illinois Legis. Redist. Comm'n, 782 F. Supp. 1272, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 818 (N.D. Ill. 1992). The Commission also raised these issues with regard to the Mendez counterclaim in a January 31, 1992 motion, and has continued to press these issues in its post-trial brief regarding both the Gardner and Mendez counterclaims.
State court judgments must be given "the same full faith and credit" -- including preclusive effect -- in federal court as they would receive in the courts of the rendering state. 28 U.S.C. § 1738; Pirela v. Village of North Aurora, 935 F.2d 909, 911 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 116 L. Ed. 2d 612, 112 S. Ct. 587 (1991). "To preclude parties from contesting matters that they have had a full and fair opportunity to litigate protects their adversaries from the expense and vexation attending multiple lawsuits, conserves judicial resources, and fosters reliance on judicial action by minimizing the possibility of inconsistent decisions." Montana v. U.S., 440 U.S. 147, 153-54, 59 L. Ed. 2d 210, 99 S. Ct. 970 (1979).
Under Illinois law, the doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, provides that "a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction bars any subsequent actions between the same parties or their privies on the same cause of action." Simcox v. Simcox, 131 Ill. 2d 491, 497, 546 N.E.2d 609, 611, 137 Ill. Dec. 664 (1989). Res judicata applies to claims that were, or could have been, raised in a prior action. LaSalle Nat'l Bank v. County of DuPage, 856 F.2d 925, 930-31 (7th Cir. 1988) (discussing Illinois law), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1081, 103 L. Ed. 2d 840, 109 S. Ct. 1536 (1989). Similarly, collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, "provides that an issue which has been addressed by a court of competent jurisdiction cannot be relitigated in a later action between the same parties or their privies . . . ." Simcox, 131 Ill. 2d at 496, 546 N.E.2d at 611. The Redistricting Commission and Reed, as the parties asserting res judicata, have "the burden of showing with clarity and certainty what was determined by the prior judgment." LaSalle Nat'l Bank, 856 F.2d at 930.
The Illinois Supreme Court's four-page January 14 opinion explained that it approved the Redistricting Commission's modified plan on January 10 after considering four types of requirements: (1) the Illinois constitutional "equal population" requirement, (2) various Illinois and federal constitutional requirements, and federal statutory requirements regarding minority representation, "i.e., racial, ethnic and gender," (3) compliance with the Illinois constitutional "compactness" requirement, and (4) "all legal requirements regarding political fairness." People ex rel. Burris, slip op. at 3-4 (Jan. 14, 1992). That court found that the Commission's modified plan "meets all four requirements" without any further explanation of what federal constitutional and statutory requirements had been applied. Id. at 4. The only constitutional or statutory standard specified in the opinion was that for reviewing the Commission's work set forth in the Illinois Constitution; the modified plan was "valid unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence." Id. at 3 (citing Ill. Const. of 1970, art. IV, § 3(b)). There were no specific findings as to any of the four general requirements listed in the opinion.
The "thrust" of the Illinois Supreme Court's opinion was its concern for the interest of the state's voters in holding elections on time. Id. at 2. This concern and a lack of resources or time, that court wrote, prevented it "from competently drawing a map that would take ...