American population in the districts proposed by the 2001 plan would
significantly affect minority voting strength. See Shinhoster dep. at
16. In the 2002 plan's proposed Senate Districts 2, 12 and 26, such bare
majorities are no longer present.
4. Overall effect of the 2002 plan
Based on the evidence before us, we can not conclude that it is more
probable than not that the 2002 plan will result in a reduction of African
American voting strength. The 2002 plan decreases BVAP in the same number
of majority-minority districts as did the 2001 plan. However, according
to the plaintiff's methodology of calculating BVAP, the 2002 plan has
thirteen districts with majority BVAP, where the benchmark plan only has
twelve. While recognizing that benchmark Senate District 44 has a BVAP
just under 50%, the difference of an additional district with a BVAP that
is greater than 50% is not insignificant for African American voting
The court, in its April 5, 2002 Opinion, was most concerned by the
evidence regarding voting patterns in Senate Districts 2, 12 and 26. The
evidence of racially polarized voting in these districts, in conjunction
with the bare majorities of BVAP in the proposed districts, led the court
to conclude that the 2001 plan was more likely than not to have a
The 2002 plan presents concerns similar to those raised by the 2001
plan. Nevertheless, the BVAP in proposed Senate District 12 is essentially
the same as that in the benchmark district. Consequently, the effect of
racially polarized voting in the proposed district is not likely to be
any different than its current effect.
The effect of the 2001 plan on minority voting strength in Senate
Districts 2 and 26 is more difficult to ascertain. The revised plan
addresses district residents' concerns about particular precincts, the
inclusion or exclusion of which the residents testified would negatively
affect minority voting strength. Thus, the court's inquiry comes down to
the question of whether racially polarized voting in the proposed Senate
Districts 2 and 26 would so negatively affect African American electoral
strength in those districts that the court can find that the 2002 plan
would have a retrogressive effect.
We, therefore, consider the evidence of racially polarized voting in
proposed Senate District 2, which has a BVAP of 54.50%, and in proposed
Senate District 26, with 55.45% BVAP, in conjunction with the fact that
the 2002 plan addresses district residents' concerns regarding specific
precincts and the addition of a majority-BVAP district. On the basis of
the evidence, we find that it is more probable than not that the 2002
plan will not have a retrogressive effect on African American voting
strength in the State of Georgia.
B. Non-retrogressive Purpose
Section 5 requires that the covered jurisdiction demonstrate by a
preponderance of the evidence that the proposed voting change was not
enacted with a retrogressive purpose. Bossier II, 528 U.S. 320, 341.
While the plaintiff has not submitted any additional evidence other than
the 2002 plan itself and the roll call of the General Assembly's vote on
the plan, the court concludes that it can draw a reasonable inference
from the course of events and from the nature of the changes made to
Senate Districts 2, 12 and 26 that the revised plan was not created to
further any retrogressive intent.
Upon careful consideration of the entire record herein and the
and case law, the court finds that the State of
Georgia has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the
State Senate redistricting plan, Georgia Act No. 444, does not have the
purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of
race or color. Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that plaintiff's request for a declaratory judgment pursuant to
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c, that the
revised Senate redistricting plan, Act. No. 444, does not have the
purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to
vote on account of race or color or membership in a language minority
group is GRANTED.
An appropriate Judgment accompanies this Opinion and Order.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 and for the reasons
stated by the court in its Memorandum Opinion and Order docketed this
same day, it is hereby
ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the Clerk shall enter final judgment in favor
of plaintiff with respect to Georgia's State Senate reapportionment
plan, Act No. 444.
IT IS SO ORDERED FOR THE THREE-JUDGE COURT.