CLC and Georgia NAACP Urge 11th Circuit to Overturn Lower Court Voting Rights Ruling Contrary to Supreme Court Precedent

Today, the Campaign Legal Center and the Georgia NAACP filed an amici brief in Wright v. Sumter County Board of Elections and Registration in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, urging the court to overturn a trial court decision that ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Plaintiff Mathis Kearse Wright Jr. alleged two changes to the Sumter County Board of Education electoral violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because they diluted black voting power in the Georgia County’s school board elections.  The first change involved the creation of two at-large districts, which favored the election of white-preferred candidates over black-preferred candidates by diluting black voting strength.  The second change concerns the boundaries of the county’s five single-member districts, which packed black voters into only two districts.  The changes are expected to lead to a 5-2 majority of white-preferred candidates on the county board in a county that is 48% black in voting age population. 

“The lower court ignored the guidance of the U.S. Supreme Court, which warns that under the broad protections of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, statistical evidence of vote dilution cannot be analyzed with a ‘rigid, formalistic approach,’” said J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center Executive Director.  “The decision below, which rejected the Voting Rights Act challenge, failed to examine the totality of circumstances and is contrary to long-standing Supreme Court cases.  If the lower court ruling stands, the black community will be left significantly underrepresented on the seven-member school board."    

The Legal Center and the Georgia NAACP are represented in the filing of the amici brief by the Institute for Public Representation's Voting Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center.

To read the brief, click here.