legislation and submit a new plan for the Court's review. Twiggs v. West, Civ. No. 71-1106 (D.S.C. April 7, 1972).
Alternate plans were devised and Act 1205 of the South Carolina General Assembly was signed into law May 6, 1972. Plan A of Act 1205 provides for more even distribution of voting population among districts, but retains those aspects previously found objectionable by the Attorney General; that is, more multi-member districts and a "numbered post" system. The state submitted this new plan to the South Carolina District Court which, without opinion, found Plan A of Act 1205 to be constitutional. Twiggs v. West, supra, Order of May 23, 1972.
Again, the voting changes envisioned necessitated a Section 5 clearance. South Carolina submitted Act 1205 to the Attorney General on May 12, 1972. Additional information was requested from the state, and upon its receipt and review, the state was notified on June 19, 1972, that its submission was complete. On June 30, 1972, the Attorney General issued a letter objecting to Section 3 of Act 1205 which provided for numbered seating in the State House of Representatives, but declined to interpose an objection to Plan A of Act 1205, relating to the State Senate. In explanation of his inaction, the Attorney General stated he was "constrained to defer to the . . determination of the three-judge District Court". Complaint, Exhibit 5.
The sole issue in this case is whether the Attorney General has fulfilled his duties under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs contend, inter alia, that the Attorney General failed to make a Section 5 determination as to whether Plan A of Act 1205 has the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color and that defendants' reliance on the South Carolina three-judge court decision is immaterial to a finding of Section 5 compliance because that Court, by its own admission, lacked jurisdiction to make such a determination.
The defendants argue, inter alia, that the Attorney General's decision is inherently discretionary and therefore not subject to review. Defendants further claim that the action should be dismissed for failure to join local state officials as indispensable parties. Lastly, defendants urge summary judgment be granted in their favor because the action was untimely filed (i.e., after expiration of the 60 day period in which the Attorney General may enter an objection under Section 5.)
Defendants' last two contentions may be summarily rejected. The test for joinder of indispensable parties under Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has not been met. Defendants have not shown that the presence of state officials is necessary to enable complete relief to be accorded or that their absence will subject any party to multiple or inconsistent obligations. The interest which defendants allege local officials must be present to protect is the lawfulness of the voting changes; such interest is not at stake in this suit. The relief sought by plaintiffs "is limited to that necessary to cause the Attorney General properly to fulfill his function under the Voting Rights Act by making a determination as to whether the changes in question have a discriminatory purpose or effect." (Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition, at 18). This Court is not therefore acting in any way on the lawfulness of voting changes. The local officials retain their ability to defend the issue of lawfulness in the proper forum.
Defendants' contention that this action was untimely filed is similarly without merit. On August 11, 1972, this issue was argued at the hearing on plaintiffs' Motion for Interim Relief. At the conclusion of that hearing, the Court found the action timely and so stated in its August 11, 1972, order. The Court will not alter its prior finding. See also, Georgia v. United States, 411 U.S. 526, 93 S. Ct. 1702, 36 L. Ed. 2d 472, 36 L. Ed. 2d - (decided May 7, 1973).
The defendants' most crucial allegation is that the Attorney General's actions under Section 5 are discretionary and not subject to judicial review. This Court might agree with the defendants if the thrust of plaintiffs' complaint were to challenge specific findings made by the Attorney General pursuant to Section 5. However, plaintiffs contend that the Attorney General made no findings at all, or that deferring to the South Carolina Court was tantamount to making no findings.
A party submitting a proposed voting rights change has the option of presenting that change to either the Attorney General or a three-judge district court in the District of Columbia. The designated authority must then review the voting change and determine whether said change has the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color. Section 5 review is a mandatory duty which must be performed by the designated authority before a proposed voting rights change can be implemented. Perkins v. Matthews, 400 U.S. 379, 385, 91 S. Ct. 431, 27 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1971); Evers v. State Board of Election Commissioners, 327 F. Supp. 640 (S.D. Miss. 1971); appeal dismissed, 405 U.S. 1001, 92 S. Ct. 1281, 31 L. Ed. 2d 470 (1972).
In fact, the Attorney General's own regulations indicate that Section 5 review is of a nondiscretionary nature. Those regulations provide, in pertinent part:
"Section 5, in providing for submission to the Attorney General as an alternative to seeking a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, imposes on the Attorney General what is essentially a judicial function. . . . The Attorney General shall base his decision on a review of material presented by the submitting authority, relevant information provided by individuals or groups, and the results of any investigation conducted by the Department of Justice. If the Attorney General is satisfied that the submitted change does not have a racially discriminatory purpose or effect, he will not object to the change and will so notify the submitting authority. If the Attorney General determines that the submitted change has a racially discriminatory purpose or effect, he will enter an objection and will so notify the submitting authority. If the evidence as to the purpose or effect of the change is conflicting, and the Attorney General is unable to resolve the conflict within the 60-day period, he shall, consistent with the above-described burden of proof applicable in the District Court, enter an objection and so notify the submitting authority. 28 C.F.R. § 51.19.