999 F.2d 831 (5th Cir. 1993), 90-8014, League of United Latin American Citizens, Council No. 4434 v. Clements

Docket Nº:90-8014.
Citation:999 F.2d 831
Party Name:LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS, COUNCIL NO. 4434, Plaintiffs-Appellees, and Jesse Oliver, et al., Intervening Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. William P. CLEMENTS, Etc., et al., Defendants. Jim MATTOX, et al., Defendants-Appellees-Appellants, v. Judge F. Harold ENTZ, Etc., Judge Sharolyn Wood, Etc., and George S. Bayoud, Jr., Etc., Defendants-App
Case Date:August 23, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 831

999 F.2d 831 (5th Cir. 1993)

LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS, COUNCIL NO. 4434,

Plaintiffs-Appellees,

and

Jesse Oliver, et al., Intervening Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

William P. CLEMENTS, Etc., et al., Defendants.

Jim MATTOX, et al., Defendants-Appellees-Appellants,

v.

Judge F. Harold ENTZ, Etc., Judge Sharolyn Wood, Etc., and

George S. Bayoud, Jr., Etc., Defendants-Appellants,

and

Tom Rickhoff, Susan D. Reed, John J. Specia, Jr., Sid L.

Harle, Sharon Macrae and Michael P. Pedan, Bexar

County, Texas State District Judges, Appellants.

No. 90-8014.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 23, 1993

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Ken Oden, Travis County Atty., David R. Richards, Sp. Counsel, Austin, TX, Mark H. Dettman, Atty., Midland, TX, for District Judges of Travis County.

Rolando L. Rios, Susan Finkelstein, San Antonio, TX, for League of United Latin American Citizens and Christina Moreno.

Walter L. Irvin, Dallas, TX, for amicus Brashear, et al. on behalf of appellees.

William L. Garrett, Garrett, Thompson & Chang, Dallas, TX, for League of United Latin American Citizens, et al.

Gabriell K. McDonald, Office of Arthur L. Walker, Austin, TX, for Legislative Black Caucus and Houston Lawyers Assoc.

Renea Hicks, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Javier Guajardo, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jim Mattox, Atty. Gen., Austin, TX, for Mattox, et al. and Bayoud (in his official capacity only).

Sherrilyn A. Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Educ. Fund, Inc., Julius Levonne Chambers, Dir. Counsel, New York City, for Houston Lawyers Assoc.

Edward B. Cloutman, III, Cloutman, Albright & Bower, E. Brice Cunningham, Dallas, TX, for Jesse Oliver, et al. (Dallas County plaintiffs/intervenors).

R. James George, Jr., John M. Harmon, Margaret H. Taylor, Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, Austin, TX, for Chapman,

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Stovall, Schraub, Cornyn, Hester, Paxson, Kirk & Walker.

Michael E. Tigar, Royal B. Lea, III, Austin, TX, for Bexar County, etc., et al.

Michael Ramsey, Ramsey & Tyson, Houston, TX, on behalf of appellant Wood, for amicus 27 incumbent Judges of Harris County.

Daniel M. Ogden, Paul Strohl, Washington Legal Foundation, Washington, D.C., for amicus curiae, Washington Legal Foundation, in support of defendant-intervenor Dallas County Judge F. Harold Entz.

Thomas F. Rugg, Chief, County Dist. Attorney's Office, Beaumont, TX, for amicus curiae, Jefferson County Dist. Judges (except Floyd, etc.).

Robert G. Pugh, Robert G. Pugh, Jr., Shreveport, LA, Kenneth C. DeJean, Asst. Atty. Gen., LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, for amicus Roemer, et al.

Cynthia Rougeou, Legal Div., Office of the Sec. of State, Baton Rouge, LA, for LA Secretary of State.

Michael Rubin, Rubin, Curry, Colvin & Joseph, Baton Rouge, LA, for LA Dist. Judges Assoc.

Susan E. Russ, David R. Boyd, Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Montgomery, AL, Fournier J. Gale, III, Maynard, Cooper, Frierson & Gale, P.C., Birmingham, AL, for amicus State of Ala.

Barbara R. Arnwine, Frank R. Parker, Robert B. McDuff, Washington, D.C., Ernest L. Johnson, T. Richardson Bobb, Baton Rouge, LA, Ulysses G. Thibodeaux, Lake Charles, LA, for Janice Clark, et al.

David C. Godbey, Jr., Robert H. Mow, Jr., Craig W. Budner, Bobby M. Roberts, Hughes & Luce, Dallas, TX, Sidney Powell, Strasburger & Price, Dallas, TX, for Entz.

J. Eugene Clements, Evelyn V. Keyes, Porter & Clements, Houston, TX, for Wood.

Seagal V. Wheatley, Donald R. Philbin, Jr., Oppenheimer, Rosenberg, Kelleher & Wheatley, Gerald H. Goldstein, Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley, Joel J. Pullen, Kaufman, Becker, Pullen & Reibach, San Antonio, TX, for Rickhoff, et al.

TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Facts ........................................................ 837 II. Motion to Remand ............................................. 840 A. The Authority of the Texas Attorney General ............... 840 B. Other Motions ............................................. 843 C. The Intervenors ........................................... 844 D. Consent Decrees ........................................... 845 E. Chisom v. Edwards ......................................... 847 F. Federalism ................................................ 849 III. Racial Bloc Voting ........................................... 849 A. Whitcomb v. Chavis and White v. Register .................. 851 B. The 1982 Amendments ....................................... 854 C. Thornburg v. Gingles ...................................... 855 D. Partisan Politics ......................................... 859 E. Two Objections ............................................ 861 IV. Other Legal Errors Affecting the Vote Dilution Inquiry ....... 863 A. Cohesiveness of Different Minority Groups ................. 863 B. Relevance of Small Number of Minority Lawyers ............. 865 C. Past Discrimination ....................................... 866 V. Texas' Linkage Interest ...................................... 868 A. The Structure of Texas District Courts .................... 868 B. The Role of Function Under § 2 ....................... 869 C. Weight of State's Interest is Matter of Law ............... 871 D. Determining the Weight of the Linkage Interest ............ 871 E. Other Means to Accommodate the Linkage Interest ........... 875 F. Balancing the State's Interest ............................ 876 VI. Application of Law to Each County ............................ 877 A. Dallas County ............................................. 877 B. Harris County .............................................. 880 C. Tarrant County ............................................. 885 D. Travis County .............................................. 887 E. Bexar County ............................................... 889 F. Jefferson County ........................................... 890 G. Midland County ............................................. 891 H. Lubbock County ............................................. 892 I. Ector County ............................................... 893 VII. Conclusion .................................................... 893

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Appeal From the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before POLITZ, Chief Judge, KING, JOHNSON, GARWOOD, JOLLY, HIGGINBOTHAM, DAVIS, JONES, SMITH, DUHE, WIENER, BARKSDALE, and DeMOSS, Circuit Judges.

PATRICK E. HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judge:

Over the past fifty years, the steady march of civil rights has been to New Orleans and this court. It continues but the demands have changed. Relatively clear lines of legality and morality have become more difficult to locate as demands for outcomes have followed the cutting away of obstacles to full participation. With our diverse ethnic makeup, this demand for results in voting has surfaced profound questions of a democratic political order such as the limits on rearranging state structures to alter election outcomes, and majority rule at the ballot box and even in legislative halls, questions Congress has provoked but not answered. All this can make a simple voting rights case seem difficult, certainly so with state judges elected on a partisan ballot. Today our difficulties of fitting the Act to the unique features of the state judiciary and sorting out racial and partisan voting are large but the merits of the claims are easily grasped. As we will explain, there is a background to the debate on the large issues that must not be obscured. The evidence of any dilution of minority voting power is marginal at best. We are not persuaded that a violation of the Voting Rights Act has been proved and we reverse.

I. Facts

On July 11, 1988, ten individual voters and the League of United Latin American Citizens sued in federal district court alleging that Texas' system of electing state trial judges violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments in several Texas counties. 1 They sued the Governor of Texas, 2 the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as chair of the Judicial Districts Board. Because this board is responsible for reapportioning the judicial districts, the suit also named each of its members as defendants. On March 12, 1989, the district court granted the motions to intervene of the Houston Lawyers' Association, the Legislative Black Caucus, and two Texas district court judges, in their individual capacities--Sharolyn Wood, 127th District Court in Harris County, and Harold Entz, 194th District Court in Dallas County.

As they have throughout Texas history, Texas voters elect their trial judges in county-wide elections. A voter may vote for all of the trial courts of general jurisdiction in her county. At the same time, each trial court is a distinct court, such as the 134th judicial district court of Dallas County, with county-wide jurisdiction and its own history of incumbents. A candidate runs for a particular

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court. Plaintiffs contend that electing trial judges county-wide violates § 2 of the Voting Rights Act by impermissibly diluting the voting power of Hispanics and blacks. Plaintiffs proceed on behalf of language and ethnic minorities in different combinations in different counties. Depending on the county--more specifically, the numbers--they argue that Hispanic voters, black voters, or the combination of both Hispanic and black voters "have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to...

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