Quilter v. Voinovich, 5:91 CV 2219.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Citation912 F. Supp. 1006
Docket NumberNo. 5:91 CV 2219.,5:91 CV 2219.
PartiesBarney QUILTER, et al., Plaintiffs, v. George V. VOINOVICH, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date11 August 1995





Timothy F. Scanlon, Scanlon & Gearinger, Akron, OH, Armistead W. Gilliam, Jr., Ann Wightman, Laura A. Sanom, Faruki, Gilliam & Ireland, Dayton, OH, for plaintiffs.

Orla Ellis Collier, III, Norton Victor Goodman, James F. DeLeone, Mark D. Tucker, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, Columbus, OH, Charles M. Rosenberg, Maynard A. Buck, III, Jeremy Gilman, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, Cleveland, OH, for defendants.

Jack Gregg Haught, Andrew S. Bergman, Office Of The Attorney General, Columbus, OH, party in interest.

Lawrence A. Kane, Jr., Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati, OH, special master.

Armistead W. Gilliam, Jr., Ann Wightman, Faruki, Gilliam & Ireland, Dayton, OH, for intervenors-plaintiffs.

Before JONES and CELEBREZZE, Circuit Judges, and DOWD, District Judge.



The question before this court is whether the Ohio Apportionment Board's consideration of race in its 1992 redistricting plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We hold that by virtue of demonstrated white and African American coalitional voting for legislative seats in Ohio, and the failure of Defendants to demonstrate a compelling state interest for using race as the predominant factor in drawing legislative lines, certain districts in the 1992 plan are unconstitutional.

I. Background and Procedural History

Pursuant to the Ohio Constitution, the State Apportionment Board, comprised of five members, must reapportion State House and Senate electoral districts for the state legislature every ten years.1 Following the 1990 federal census, a majority of the Apportionment Board2 appointed James R. Tilling to draft an apportionment plan on behalf of the Board. After conducting public hearings throughout the state, including meeting with some members of minority organizations, Tilling drafted a plan that included eight majority-minority districts, districts in which a majority of the population is a member of a specific minority group. Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146, 148, 113 S.Ct. 1149, 1153, 122 L.Ed.2d 500 (1993). On October 1, 1991, the Apportionment Board adopted the plan Tilling submitted by a 3-2 vote along party lines. Id. The three Republican members voted for the plan, and the two Democrats voted against it. The Board later reconvened on October 3, 1991, to make several technical amendments to the plan, and the plan, adopted on October 3, 1991, in the wake of these changes, was designated "Amendment C."

On November 1, 1991, Barney Quilter and Thomas Ferguson, the two Democrats on the Board who voted against the plan, and various Democratic party officials and legislators filed suit against the Republican members of the Apportionment Board and Tilling.3 Seeking invalidation of the plan, the Plaintiffs alleged that the redistricting plan violated section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article XI of the Ohio Constitution, which provided specific apportionment guidelines. Quilter v. Voinovich, 794 F.Supp. 695, 695-96 (N.D.Ohio 1992). According to the Plaintiffs, the Defendants intentionally "packed minorities into certain districts where minorities historically were able to elect representatives of choice with crossover votes." Id. at 698. The Plaintiffs contended that this packing resulted in a waste of minority votes in the packed districts and a dilution of minority voting strength in the surrounding areas where the "packed" voters could influence elections. Id. In response, the Defendants contended that the plan actually enhanced the strength of black voters by creating safe, minority-dominated districts. As justification for these changes, the Defendants cited compliance with the Voting Rights Act and federal case law, which allegedly mandated the drawing of majority-minority districts. Id.

On January 31, 1992, a majority of this three judge panel held that there was "no legal mandate or finding of a Voting Rights Act violation to justify Defendants' creation of majority-minority districts wherever possible in the 1991 apportionment plan." Id. at 701. Thus, we ordered the Board to draft a new plan or demonstrate that it was remedying a section 2 violation.4 Id. at 702.

The Apportionment Board responded by establishing and adopting a record on February 18, 1992, that, in its view, justified the Board's creation of minority-controlled state legislative districts. Furthermore at its February 18 meeting, the Board amended the 1991 plan to eliminate a series of technical errors in the plan that the Ohio Supreme Court had identified in its separate review of the plan, Voinovich v. Ferguson, 63 Ohio St.3d 198, 586 N.E.2d 1020 (1992). The resulting 1992 plan, "Amendment D," created only five majority-minority districts, however, a reduction from the eight majority-minority districts in the 1991 plan, "Amendment C."

On March 10, 1992, after the Board submitted its findings and conclusions, along with the new 1992 plan, this court held that the Board "failed once again to justify its wholesale creation of majority-minority districts, thus rendering the plan, as submitted, violative of the Voting Rights Act of 1965." Quilter v. Voinovich, 794 F.Supp. 756, 757 (N.D.Ohio 1992). Furthermore, this court held that the 1992 plan also violated the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Id. Nine days later, in response to Defendants' motion for a stay of the March 10 order pending appeal to the United States Supreme Court, this court additionally held that both the 1991 and 1992 plans violated the Fourteenth Amendment because they departed from the requirement that all districts be of nearly equal population. Quilter v. Voinovich, No. 5:91CV-2219, 1992 WL 677145, at *10 (N.D.Ohio Mar. 19, 1992).

The Defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146, 113 S.Ct. 1149, 122 L.Ed.2d 500 (1993), the Supreme Court reversed this court's Quilter decisions. Denying two of the Plaintiffs' claims, the Court held that the reapportionment plan at issue did not violate section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, nor did it violate the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the Court held that the Plaintiffs had established a prima facie case that the population deviations between the districts violated the Equal Protection Clause, and the Court remanded "only for further proceedings on whether the plan's deviation from equal population among districts violated the Fourteenth Amendment." Id. at 152, 113 S.Ct. at 1154.

Upon remand, we held that the Ohio reapportionment plan survived scrutiny under the one-person-one-vote guarantee of the Equal Protection Clause because (1) the Defendants advanced a genuine, rational state policy to justify the deviations from population equality among the state legislative districts, (2) their plan reasonably furthered the rational state policy, and (3) the 13.81% and 10.54% total deviations fell within constitutional limits. Quilter v. Voinovich, 857 F.Supp. 579, 587 (N.D.Ohio 1994). Accordingly, judgment was entered for the Defendants on this issue.

While the latter decision was pending, however, the Plaintiffs moved this court for permission to amend their complaint in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 113 S.Ct. 2816, 125 L.Ed.2d 511 (1993).5 As a lower court, we are bound of course, regardless of the strength of our reservations,6 to follow the Supreme Court's decision in Reno, where the Court held for the first time that a plaintiff could state a claim under the Equal Protection Clause by alleging that a districting plan, "though race-neutral on its face, rationally cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to separate voters into different districts on the basis of race, and that the separation lacks sufficient justification." Id. at ___, 113 S.Ct. at 2828. We granted the Plaintiffs' motion,7 and their complaint was accordingly amended.8Quilter v. Voinovich, 157 F.R.D. 36, 40 (N.D.Ohio 1994).

Having considered the record evidence and the arguments of the parties, both written and oral, we are prepared to issue our decision.9 We preface our findings of fact and conclusions of law, however, with a discussion of the governing law that provides the analytical paradigm for our conclusions.

II. First Principles
A. Nature of a Shaw v. Reno Claim

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Reno, the Court had delineated only two legal theories to support a redistricting challenge under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment: (1) violation of the "one-person-one-vote" principle, which requires that districts be equal in population so that the votes cast by voters in one district do not have less weight than those cast by voters in other districts, Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 568, 84 S.Ct. 1362, 1385, 12 L.Ed.2d 506 (1964); and (2) a claim of vote dilution, whereby districts are purposefully drawn to unfairly dilute or diminish the voting strength of an identified group of voters, Rogers v. Lodge, 458 U.S. 613, 102 S.Ct. 3272, 73 L.Ed.2d 1012 (1982). Shaw v. Hunt, 861 F.Supp. 408, 421 (E.D.N.C.1994), probable jurisdiction noted, ___ U.S. ___, 115 S.Ct. 2639, 132 L.Ed.2d 878 (1995); see also Reno, 509 U.S. at ___, ___, ___, 113 S.Ct. at 2822, 2823, 2828; Miller v. Johnson, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 115 S.Ct. 2475, 2501, 132 L.Ed.2d 762 (1995) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting). In Shaw v. Reno, however, the Court announced a third means to challenge legislative redistricting under the Equal Protection Clause. The...

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