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League of Women Voters of Chicago v. Wolf

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

August 16, 2013

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF CHICAGO, JODI BIANCALANA, BRUCE CROSBY, WILLIAM K. CROSBY, STEPHANIE CROWELL, IGNAZIA ANGELA DIADONE, JIM IGNATOWSKI, GERALD A. JUDGE, AMELIA KABAT, ERNIE LUKASIK, KEITH MCDONALD, ROBERT MCKAY, LYNN SEERMON, PATRICIA SWINDLE, AND ALONSO ZARAGOZA, Plaintiffs,
v.
TIMOTHY WOLF, et al., Defendants

Page 1008

For League of Women Voters of Chicago, The, Jodi Biancalana, Bruce Crosby, William K. Crosby, Stephanie Crowell, Ignazia Angela Daidone, Jim Ignatowski, Gerald A. Judge, Amelia Kabat, Ernie Lukasik, Keith McDonald, Robert McKay, Lynn Seermon, Patricia Swindle, Alonso Zaragoza, Plaintiffs: Jeffrey Dov Greenspan, Jeffrey D. Greenspan, Skokie, IL; Michael Paul Persoon, Thomas Howard Geoghegan, Despres Schwartz & Geoghegan, Chicago, IL; Sean Morales Doyle, Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

For Roderick Sawyer, Jason Ervin, Howard Brookins, Jr., Joann Thompson, Deborah Graham, Natashia Holmes, Pat Dowell, William Burns, Jr. Walter Burnett, Emma Mitts, Michael Chandler, Carrie Austin, Matthew O'Shea, Michelle Harris, Leslie Hairston, Lona Lane, Latasha Thomas, Willie Cochran, Toni Foulkes, Anthony Beale, Plaintiffs: Robert Thomas Shannon, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Chicago, IL.

For City of Chicago, Defendant: Andrew S. Mine, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Chicago, Law Department, Corporation Counsel, Chicago, IL; David W. Ellis, Chicago, IL; Mardell Nereim, City of Chicago, Department of Law, Chicago, IL; Michael James Kasper, Fletcher Topol & O'Brien, Chicago, IL; Michael Thomas Layden, Richard J. Prendergast, Richard J. Prendergast, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

For Roberto Maldonado, John Pope, Ray Suarez, Daniel Solis, Ariel Reboyras, George Cardenas, Joe Moreno, Ricardo Munoz, Rey Colon, Intervenor Defendants: Joseph E. Tighe, Alan J. Mandel, Ltd., Skokie, IL.

OPINION

Page 1009

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Sharon Johnson Coleman, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs, League of Women Voters and fourteen of their members (collectively " LWV" or " plaintiffs" ) filed a seven-count Complaint alleging constitutional and state law violations arising from the defendant City of Chicago's (" City" ) new redistricting plan for the 2015 aldermanic elections. Plaintiffs assert that the City has deprived plaintiffs of their right to vote and have acted ultra vires of state law through the de facto implementation of the new ward map before the 2015 election. Plaintiffs also assert that the new ward map itself is unconstitutional as a violation of the " one person, one vote" principle, and the new ward map as drawn violates state law. The City moves to dismiss the Complaint

Page 1010

pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. This Court heard arguments on the motion on July 15, 2013. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied as to standing and granted for failure to state a claim.

Background

League of Women Voters of Chicago is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. The individual plaintiffs are Chicago residents and LWV members. The City of Chicago is a municipal corporation. Pursuant to 65 Ill. Comp. Stat. 20/21-37, the City enacted an ordinance to redistrict the fifty aldermanic wards following the decennial census in 2010. Divided equally among the 50 wards, the population of each ward should be 53,912 based on the 2010 census results that City population was 2,695,598.

In 2011, a City Council Committee was convened to conduct hearings, receive and consider proposed redistricting plans. On January 17, 2012, Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago, called a special meeting of the City Council on January 19, 2012, to consider and vote on an ordinance amending Title II, Section 8 of the Municipal Code regarding ward boundaries. The proposed ordinance was made public a half hour before the meeting. The City Council approved the proposed ordinance without a floor debate by 41-8 vote. The new map has deviations in population of up to 8.7 percent in population. Plaintiffs also allege that several of the new wards have " grotesque shapes and boundaries," particularly the Second and Thirty-Sixth Wards, and fragments neighborhoods into multiple wards.

Plaintiffs seek a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the City from implementing the new ward boundaries prior to the 2015 election. Plaintiffs also seek a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing implementation of the January 19, 2012, Ordinance and directing the City to develop and adopt a redistricting plan that is in compliance with 65 Ill. Comp. Stat. 20/21-36 with respect to each of the fifty wards.

Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Standing is an essential jurisdictional requirement; " [i]n essence the question of standing is whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or particular issues." Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d 440, 443 (7th Cir. 2009). As with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the district court must " accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999)). However, when a defendant challenges subject-matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992) .

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) sets forth the basic pleading requirement that a complaint must contain a " short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8 does not require the plaintiff to plead particularized facts, but the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a plausible right to relief above the speculative level. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751-52 (7th Cir. 2011). In order to survive dismissal, plaintiff must plead " more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-

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harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). When ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (7th Cir. 2004), and draw all reasonable inferences ...


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