The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Elaine E. Bucklo
Judge Diane S. Sykes Judge Philip P. Simon
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On July 20, 2011, a mix of citizen-voters and Republican state legislators filed a complaint alleging that the legislative redistricting plan enacted by the Illinois legislature following the 2010 census violated various state and federal laws. A handful of interested parties intervened in the action; the complaint was twice amended; and we granted, in part, successive motions to dismiss. Now faced with defendants' motion for summary judgment of the two counts remaining in the operative iteration of the complaint--count 5, alleging that Representative District ("RD") 96 is the product of racial gerrymandering in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and count 1, alleging that RD 23 dilutes the votes of Latino voters in violation of § 2 of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965--we must decide whether plaintiffs are entitled to a trial on either claim. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that they are not and grant defendants' motion accordingly.
Our previous decisions in this case set forth its background, which we restate in summary fashion here. Illinois has 59 Legislative (or "Senate") districts and 118 Representative (or "House") districts. Each Senate district is composed of two House districts. Pursuant to the state constitution, the boundaries of these districts are regularly reconfigured to reflect population data obtained in the decennial federal Census. In March, April, and May of this year, redistricting committees in the House and Senate held public hearings throughout the state to receive input from citizens and interested parties on the redistricting plan. Districts maps were proposed and amended in late May, and on June 3, 2011, the General Assembly passed P.A. 97-6, which established the new map of House and Senate districts. P.A. 97-6 adopted and incorporated House Resolution 385 ("HR 385") and Senate Resolution 249 ("SR 249") for the purpose of identifying legislative intent.
Both HR 385 and SR 249 provide narrative discussions of each new district. These narratives generally identify the number of residents in each district, which in every case is said to achieve the "equal-population target" (in the words of the House), or the "ideal equal population target" (the phrase used by the Senate); explain population changes revealed by the 2010 Census; describe the shape and borders of the new district; and discuss demographic, social, economic, and partisan characteristics of the communities located within each, as well as the racial composition of the district's voting-age population (the "VAP"). The narratives also identify the political subdivisions that are encompassed, in whole or in part, within each district. In many instances, they also set forth the extent to which the "core" of the previous district is preserved in the new district.
Representative District 96
Representative District 96 joins, for the first time, the downstate urban centers of Springfield and Decatur. This idea was first proposed by the African-Americans for Legislative Redistricting ("AALR"), a defendant-intervenor in this action. Lawrence Hill, a co-chair of AALR, testified that the purpose of creating the new RD 96 was to combine communities of interest in the urban areas of Springfield and Decatur. In his deposition, Mr. Hill testified that he identified "common factors" in those communities, including:
Poor education outcomes, poor economic outcomes for the citizens. There is a stream of commerce between those two along I-72. They advertise in those same communities, the print media does and the radio. They worship along those communities. And when I say that, I say that there are people who are from Springfield who go to Decatur and vice versa for services. So they have a similar set of interests. They have a community of interests.
Deposition of Lawrence Hill, Defendants' L.R. 56.1 Statement, Exh. E, at 42:20-43:4 [DE 73-8]. Mr. Hill further testified that he discussed the idea of joining portions of Springfield and Decatur into one district with Rev. Eric Jackson, a Decatur pastor who told Mr. Hill that some of his parishioners traveled from Springfield for services. Id. at 74:23-75:6. Mr. Hill also consulted Frank McNeil, a former Alderman in Springfield and community activist, who supported the concept of joining parts of Springfield and Decatur into one district. Id. at 55:6-56:7.
Current Springfield Alderman Doris Turner testified to a joint House-Senate hearing expressing support for a district that would join "the eastern parts of Springfield, communities along Interstate 72, and western Decatur." Transcript of May 24, 2011, joint hearing, Def.'s L.R. 56.1
Stmt., Exh. F, at 124 [DE 73-9]. She explained her position as follows:
Currently both of these communities are urban areas that continue to be represented by individuals with a very rural perspective. This dilemma speaks to our most fundamental right, appropriate representation by our government.... When concerns are not understood and appropriately addressed [by our elected officials], it leads to the disenfranchisement of an entire community. And I believe that's the situation currently being experienced by the individuals residing in Springfield and Decatur. I think that it should also be brought to your attention that currently these two cities are joined by media markets and co-sponsor events and a lot of other things that join them together in a very real way throughout the entire year. ...
This House district will bring a new focus and attention to the many issues that continue to plague this community, among them an increase in violence and declining educational outcomes, and increase voter participation in the election process.
Ultimately, the General Assembly passed a version of RD 96 that "closely resembles" AALR's proposal. SR 249, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. D, at 86 [DE 73-7].*fn1 Timothy Mapes, the Speaker of the House's Chief of Staff, was primarily responsible for drawing the district lines in the 2011 redistricting plan. Aff. of Timothy Mapes, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. L, at ¶ 4 [DE 73-19]. Mr. Mapes testified that he was not the principal drafter of RD 96, but that he reviewed its boundaries before signing off on the final version of the map. Id. at ¶ 8. In his deposition, Mr. Mapes recalled that RD 96 "contained an incumbent Republican House member" (Rep. Adam Brown, a plaintiff in this case), and explained that any changes he made to the proposed boundary lines of RD 96 reflected "the interest in trying to find a competitive district looking at Democratic performing precincts to see and make sure all of those where possible could be contained in that district." Mapes Dep., Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. 5, at 66:22-67:10 [DE 88-5]. In pursuit of that interest, Mr. Mapes reviewed a map of RD 96 overlaid with the results of the "Democratic Index" created by staff to evaluate the partisan composition of the district by precincts. DE 73-19 at ¶ 8. Mr. Mapes did not review a map of RD 96 similarly overlaid with the results of census data reflecting the district's racial demography before finalizing its boundaries. Id.
A comparison of the partisan map, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. M [DE 73-20], and the census-based map, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. N [DE 73-21], shows a strong correlation between race and partisan preference. This is consistent with the testimony of defendants' expert Dr. Allan Lichtman, who testified to a joint House-Senate hearing that actual voter behavior reveals a "very substantial correlation" generally between African-American voters and preference for the Democratic candidate in general elections. Tr. of April 24, 2011 hearing, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. B, at 83 [DE 73-5].
A graphic depiction of the boundaries of RD 96 is unremarkable in its shape. Its borders form a curved, vaguely rectangular strip with ends that taper at its northeast (Decatur) and northwest (Springfield) points. The maximum border-to-border distance in the district is 41.89 miles, and it is visibly one of the smallest downstate districts in terms of geographic size. Visual inspection of the 2011 redistricting map as a whole reveals that RD 96 is not nearly the longest, the widest, or the most irregularly shaped of Illinois' 118 representative districts.
The narrative discussions in the House and Senate resolutions describe the boundary lines outlining the borders of RD 96 and summarize the rationales behind them. With respect to the northern border of RD 96, HR 385 explains that "[t]o maintain a continuous district from east to west, many township lines and the Christian County border are utilized as the majority of the northern line of proposed RD 96." HR 385, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., Exh. C, at 277 [DE 73-6]. The resolutions further explain that Rochester and Rochester Township are split ...