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Imminent Elections for a Districting Plan Not Yet Precleared

Robert Timothy Reagan, Margaret S. Williams, Marie Leary, Catherine R. Borden, Jessica L. Snowden, Patricia D. Breen, Jason A. Cantone
December 13, 2016
Available Online Only

Petteway v. Galveston (Kenneth M. Hoyt, Emilio M. Garza, and Melinda Harmon, S.D. Tex. 3:11-cv-511)
A federal complaint sought to enjoin the use of new county commission district lines until the new lines could be precleared pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The district judge assigned the case issued a temporary restraining order, but the other two judges of a three-judge district court empaneled to hear the section 5 claim determined that the injunction was unnecessary while preclearance procedures were pending. Preclearance required adjustments to the new districting plan, and the court ordered adjustments to the election calendar to accommodate the late-drawn district lines. The district judge assigned the case awarded attorney fees and costs to the plaintiffs, but the court of appeals determined that plaintiffs were not prevailing parties in the litigation because the injunction did not have an impact on the preclearance process.
Subject: District lines. Topics: Section 5 preclearance; malapportionment; three-judge court; enjoining elections; attorney fees; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.