Garza v. County of Los Angeles, Nos. 90-55944

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore SCHROEDER, NELSON, and KOZINSKI; SCHROEDER; Kozinski's; KOZINSKI
Citation918 F.2d 763
PartiesYolanda GARZA; Salvador Ledezma; Raymond Palacios; Monica Tovar, Guadalupe De La Garza, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County; Deane Dana; Peter F. Schabarum; Kenneth F. Hahn, Defendants-Appellants. UNITED STATES Of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, and Lawrence K. Irvin; Sarah Flores, Intervenors-Appellees, v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County; Deane Dana; Peter F. Schabarum; Kenneth F. Hahn, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date07 January 1991
Docket Number90-55945 and 90-56024,Nos. 90-55944

Page 763

918 F.2d 763
59 USLW 2317
Yolanda GARZA; Salvador Ledezma; Raymond Palacios; Monica
Tovar, Guadalupe De La Garza, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles
County; Deane Dana; Peter F. Schabarum; Kenneth
F. Hahn, Defendants-Appellants.
UNITED STATES Of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
and
Lawrence K. Irvin; Sarah Flores, Intervenors-Appellees,
v.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles
County; Deane Dana; Peter F. Schabarum; Kenneth
F. Hahn, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Nos. 90-55944, 90-55945 and 90-56024.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Oct. 10, 1990.
Decided Nov. 2, 1990.
Certiorari Denied Jan. 7, 1991.
See 111 S.Ct. 681.

Page 765

John E. McDermott, Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants-appellants Los Angeles County.

Thomas K. Bourke, Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant Flores.

Mark D. Rosenbaum, Richard P. Fajardo, Antonia Hernandez, Los Angeles, Cal., for plaintiffs-appellees Garza.

Irving Gornstein and Jessica Dunsay Silver, Steven H. Rosenbaum, Mark L. Gross and Miriam R. Eisenstein, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee U.S.

Theodore Shaw, Los Angeles, Cal., for intervenor-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before SCHROEDER, NELSON, and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges.

SCHROEDER, Circuit Judge:

INTRODUCTION

Hispanics in Los Angeles County, joined by the United States of America, filed this voting rights action in 1988 seeking a redrawing of the districts for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. They alleged that the existing boundaries, which had been drawn after the 1980 census, were gerrymandered boundaries that diluted Hispanic voting strength. They sought redistricting in order to create a district with a Hispanic majority for the 1990 Board of Supervisors election in which two board members were to be elected.

The Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1973, forbids the imposition or application of any practice that would deny or abridge, on grounds of race or color, the right of any citizen to vote. In 1980, a plurality of the Supreme Court held that this provision prohibited only intentional discrimination, and would not allow minorities

Page 766

to challenge practices that, although not instituted with invidious intent, diluted minority votes in practice. City of Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55, 100 S.Ct. 1490, 64 L.Ed.2d 47 (1980). In response to this decision, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act in 1982 to add language indicating that the Act forbids not only intentional discrimination, but also any practice shown to have a disparate impact on minority voting strength. See 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1973(b). Thus, after the 1982 amendment, the Voting Rights Act can be violated by both intentional discrimination in the drawing of district lines and facially neutral apportionment schemes that have the effect of diluting minority votes.

To the extent that a redistricting plan deliberately minimizes minority political power, it may violate both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment. See Bolden, 446 U.S. at 66-67, 100 S.Ct. at 1499. The plaintiffs in this case claimed that because the County had engaged in intentional discrimination in the drawing of district lines in 1981, the resulting boundaries violated both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause. They further claimed that, whether or not the vote dilution was intentional, the effect of the County's districting plan was the reduction of Hispanic electoral power in violation of the newly amended Voting Rights Act.

The district court held a three-month bench trial. At its conclusion the district court found that the County had engaged in intentional discrimination in the 1981 reapportionment, as it had in prior reapportionments, deliberately diluting the strength of the Hispanic vote. It also found that, regardless of intentional discrimination, the County's reapportionment plan violated the Voting Rights Act because it had the effect of diluting Hispanic voting strength. Finally, it found that, based on post-census data, it was possible to grant the remedy that the plaintiffs sought, which was a redistricting in which one of the five districts would have a Hispanic voting majority. It ordered the County to propose such a redistricting.

In its findings, the district court detailed the recent history of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the voting procedures by which it has been elected. At least since the beginning of this century, the Board has always consisted of five members, elected in even-numbered years to serve four-year terms. These elections are staggered so that two supervisors are elected one year, and three are elected two years later. Supervisors are elected in non-partisan elections, and a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast in order to win. If no candidate receives such a majority, the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes must engage in a runoff contest.

The district court found persuasive the evidence showing that the Board had engaged in intentional discrimination in redistrictings that it undertook in 1959, 1965 and 1971. The district court further found that the 1981 redistricting was calculated at least in part to keep the effects of those prior discriminatory reapportionments in place, as well as to prevent Hispanics from attaining a majority in any district in the future. The findings of the district court on the question of intentional discrimination are set forth in the margin. 1 After

Page 768

entering these findings and conclusions of law, the district court gave the County the opportunity to propose a new plan, as required by Wise v. Lipscomb, 437 U.S. 535, 540, 98 S.Ct. 2493, 2497, 57 L.Ed.2d 411 (1978).

Under the Los Angeles County Charter, any redistricting must be approved by four of the five members of the Board. In response to the court's order directing the County to propose a plan, three Board members submitted a proposal. The district court rejected that proposal with findings to support its conclusion that the proposal was less than a good faith effort to remedy the violations found in the existing districting. The court considered other proposals. On August 6 it accepted and imposed a plan which creates a district in which the majority of the voting age citizen population is Hispanic. The County then appealed and this court ordered the matter handled on an expedited basis.

There is a second appeal before us. It is from the district court's denial of a motion

Page 769

to intervene in the main case. During the course of the proceedings, there was a primary election under the existing districting plan. The incumbent supervisor, Edmund Edelman, received a majority of the votes in District 3, and thereby won that seat. In the District 1 contest, the incumbent did not seek reelection. No candidate received the required majority of the votes; therefore, the two front runners, Sarah Flores and Gregory O'Brien, were scheduled to compete in a runoff election on November 6, 1990.

During the remedial phase of these proceedings, one of those candidates, Sarah Flores, sought to intervene in this action in order to oppose any redistricting plan which would result in the need for a new primary election in which additional candidates could run for the seat she was seeking in District 1. The district court denied her petition to intervene and she appeals from that denial. We have jurisdiction of her appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. See California v. Block, 690 F.2d 753, 776 (9th Cir.1982) (denial of motion to intervene is an appealable order).

I. The County Appeal--Liability

Plaintiffs filed this action in order to require the imposition of new district lines for the 1990 election of supervisors. The record shows without serious dispute that at the time of the decennial redistricting in 1981, it was not possible to draw a district map, with roughly equal population in each district, that contained a district with a majority of Hispanic voters. The district court found, however, that the County in 1981, as part of a course of conduct that began decades earlier, intentionally fragmented the Hispanic population among the various districts in order to dilute the effect of the Hispanic vote in future elections and preserve incumbencies of the Anglo members of the Board of Supervisors. The evidence in the record also shows that at the time that this action was filed it was possible to draw lines for five districts of roughly equal population size, as required by state law, with one single-member district having a majority of Hispanic voters.

The district court found the County liable for vote dilution on two separate theories. It found that the County had adopted and applied a redistricting plan that resulted in dilution of Hispanic voting power in violation of Section 2. It also found that the County, by establishing and maintaining the plan, had intentionally discriminated against Hispanics in violation of Section 2 and the Equal Protection clause of the fourteenth amendment.

In this appeal, the County's threshold argument is that districts drawn in 1981 are lawful, regardless of any intentional or unintentional dilution of minority voting strength, because at the time they were drawn there could be no single-member district with a majority of minority voters. The County asks us to extract from the Supreme Court's leading decision in Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 106 S.Ct. 2752, 92 L.Ed.2d 25 (1986), and subsequent cases in this and other circuits, the principle that there can be no successful challenge to a districting system unless the minority challenging that system can show that it could, at the time of districting, constitute a voter majority in a single-member district.

In response to this position, the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
151 practice notes
  • City of San Jose v. Trump, No. 20-CV-05167-RRC-LHK-EMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • October 22, 2020
    ...ineligible to vote—women, children, bound servants, convicts, the insane, and, at a later time, aliens." Garza v. County of Los Angeles , 918 F. 2d 763, 774 (9th Cir. 1990). Finally, the three-judge court in FAIR emphasized that, "[a]ccording to James Madison, the apportionment was to be ‘f......
  • Calvin v. Jefferson Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, CASE NO. 4:15CV131-MW/CAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • March 19, 2016
    ...1286.The lower courts have interpreted Burns in strikingly different ways. The Ninth Circuit decision in Garza v. County of Los Angeles , 918 F.2d 763 (9th Cir.1990), contains two such interpretations in its majority and dissenting opinions. Garza involved the redrawing of the districts for......
  • Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14–940.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • April 4, 2016
    ...Circuit has likewise rejected appellants' theory, i.e., that voter population must be roughly equalized. See Garza v. County of L. A., 918 F.2d 763, 773–776 (C.A.9 1990). Also declining to mandate voter-eligible apportionment, the Fourth and Fifth Circuits have suggested that the choice of ......
  • Doe 1 v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., No. 10–3824.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 14, 2011
    ...injured as a result” of the governmental action to ensure that courts “can impose a meaningful remedy.” Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 771 (9th Cir.1990). To establish discriminatory impact in a racial discrimination case, Appellants must show that similarly situated individu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
149 cases
  • City of San Jose v. Trump, No. 20-CV-05167-RRC-LHK-EMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • October 22, 2020
    ...ineligible to vote—women, children, bound servants, convicts, the insane, and, at a later time, aliens." Garza v. County of Los Angeles , 918 F. 2d 763, 774 (9th Cir. 1990). Finally, the three-judge court in FAIR emphasized that, "[a]ccording to James Madison, the apportionment was to be ‘f......
  • Calvin v. Jefferson Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, CASE NO. 4:15CV131-MW/CAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • March 19, 2016
    ...1286.The lower courts have interpreted Burns in strikingly different ways. The Ninth Circuit decision in Garza v. County of Los Angeles , 918 F.2d 763 (9th Cir.1990), contains two such interpretations in its majority and dissenting opinions. Garza involved the redrawing of the districts for......
  • Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14–940.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • April 4, 2016
    ...Circuit has likewise rejected appellants' theory, i.e., that voter population must be roughly equalized. See Garza v. County of L. A., 918 F.2d 763, 773–776 (C.A.9 1990). Also declining to mandate voter-eligible apportionment, the Fourth and Fifth Circuits have suggested that the choice of ......
  • Doe 1 v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., No. 10–3824.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 14, 2011
    ...injured as a result” of the governmental action to ensure that courts “can impose a meaningful remedy.” Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 771 (9th Cir.1990). To establish discriminatory impact in a racial discrimination case, Appellants must show that similarly situated individu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Estimating Racially Polarized Voting: A View From the States
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 50-1, March 1997
    • March 1, 1997
    ...Smyth, and C. G. Everett. 1991. "Ecological Regression and Voting Rights." Evaluation Review 15: 673-711. Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied S.Ct. 691 (1991). Giles, M. W, and K. Hertz. 1994. "Racial Threat and Party Identification." American Politica......
  • A Natural Experiment of Race-Based and Issue Voting: The 2001 City of Los Angeles Elections
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 58-2, June 2005
    • June 1, 2005
    ...Review 15: 673-711. King, Gary, Michael Tomz, and Jason Wittenberg. 2000. “Making Garza v. County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. 918 F.2d 763 the Most of Statistical Analyses: Improving Interpretation (9th Cir.1990), cert. denied 111 S. Ct. 681 (1991). Presentation” American Journal o......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT