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December 10, 1996 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-12-10

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 10, 1996--9

,Race redistricting
faces Supreme
Court in 2 cases

I - - - -a

Calif. systems to
wait on Prop. 209

U Court wary of efforts
to maximize
candidates' success
WASHINGTON (AP) - The racial
politics of running for Congress in
Georgia and for a local school board in
Louisiana provided the backdrop yester-
day asthe Supreme Court examined the
use ofrace in redrawing election districts.
In separate argument- sessions, the
.court appeared wary of redistricting
efforts aimed at maximizing black can-
didates' success.
In the Georgia case, the Clinton
administration and black voters are ask-
ing the court to strike down a congres-
sional map that features one majority-
black district so a plan with two can be
put in place.
In the Louisiana case, a school board
redistricting plan that includes no
majority-black districts is under attack.
Rulings, expected by July, may clari-
fy just how far the justices will let leg-
islators and local officials nationwide
go to preserve or enhance the voting
clout of racial and ethnic minorities.
The court has frowned upon such
efforts- in a series of decisions since
1993, ruling that drawing districts
mainly to boost minority voting power
almost always amounts to unlawful
racial gerrymandering.
At -one point yesterday, Justice
Anthony Kennedy sardonically noted
that a Justice Department effort to
refashion Georgia's I 1-district congres-
sional map to provide two majority-
black districts "just sq happens" to split
counties "along white-black lines."
A lower court opted instead for a
plan with one majority-black district.
When Justice Department lawyer
Seth Waxman said the court-drawn plan
failed to respect the Georgia
Legislature's desire for two majority-
black congressional districts, several
justices sounded dubious.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted
that the three-judge federal court in
Georgia concluded that the state
Legislature had drawn such a plan only
as a "result of Justice Department coer-
cion:'
At the federal government's urging
after the 1990 census, Georgia had cre-

ated a redistricting plan with three
majority-black districts. But the
Supreme Court struck it down last year.
A. Lee Parks, representing a group of
white voters who support the court-
imposed plan, noted that two black
incumbents forced to seek re-election
in majority-white districts won in last
month's elections,
"The real world of this case ... is that
both minority candidates won," he said.
"They found positions that would
appeal to both black and white voters,
and they won."
In the Louisiana case, the court wres-
tIed with the standard that Justice
Department lawyers or federal courts
must use when deciding whether pro-
posed changes in district boundaries
comply with the Voting Rights Act of
1965.
One part of the law says a proposed
change cannot win the required Justice
Department approval if it has a discrim-
inatory purpose or effect.
Another part of the law is even more
stringent. It bans any voting practice
that has a discriminatory effect - no
matter what its purpose.
A three-judge federal court seemed
to bar Justice Department lawyers in
the Louisiana case from citing a viola-
tion of the more stringent section as a
reason for denying approval of a pro-
posed change.
"This is about the school board's
unwillingness to consider any alterna-
tive at all to a plan they knew would
dilute black voters' clout," argued
Deval Patrick, who heads the Justice
Department's Civil Rights Division.
Patrick accused the school board of
going to extraordinary lengths "rather
than adopting a plan that is fair."
Bossier Parish sought to redraw elec-
tion districts for its 12-member school
board after the 1990 census. Blacks
made up 17.6 percent of the parish's
voting-age population, but no black
ever had been elected to the board.
The local chapter of the NAACP pro-
posed creating two majority-black elec-
tion districts, but the school board
instead adopted a plan without a black-
majority district.
John Borkowski, representing the
NAACP, said the facts "tend to show
discriminatory purpose."

By Kathy Chu
The Daily Californian
BERKELEY, Calif. - A federal
judge has ordered the university to ignore
Proposition 209, forcing UC officials to
postpone admissions and financial aid
decisions until a court hearing next week.
The officials, barring a court order.
were set to render a bevy of undergrad-
uate admissions decisions and award
financial aid to graduate students
before Dec. 16.
Judge Thelton Henderson's Friday
decision adds the university to the list of
state agencies affected by his temporary
restraining order against Proposition 209.
"It did not come as a surprise," UC
spokesperson Rick Malaspina said
Friday about the ruling. "It's clear now
that the university will comply, but the
key concern here is the need for clarity
and consistency for the benefit of stu-
dents."
Pursuant to the court ruling, campus-
es were notified to hold off on making
admissions and financial aid decisions
until the December hearing.
Friday's court order follows a Nov.27
ruling that blocked Gov. Pete Wilson
and Attorney General Dan Lungren
from eliminating state affirmative
action programs. The American Civil
Liberties Union added the UC Board of
Regents to the roster of defendants after

university officials said they would not
voluntarily comply with the court order.
"I think that it's unfortunate that the
regents of all governmental state bodies
refused to voluntarily comply with the
(restraining order)," said southern
California ACLU attorney Mark
Rosenbaum.
Henderson declared in a five-page
brief that UC applicants faced "the
prospect of irreparable harm" under
Proposition 209, and noted that the
"balance of harms clearly favors the
plaintiffs."
The judge granted Friday's tempo-
rary restraining order on the premise
that preserving race - and gender -
based policies at the university until
next month's hearing would not inflict
undue harm upon campuses.
"Because the university has altered its
admissions and financial aid policies
solely to comply with Proposition 209,
and because these alterations threaten to
irreparably injure members of the plain-
tiff class prior to this court's Dec. 16,
1996 preliminary injunction hearing, the
court concludes that a (temporary
restraining order) is appropriate to pre-
serve the status quo until the date of that
hearing," stated the brief.
-Distributed by the University Wire
Service

AP PHOTO
Ho, ho, ho
A man dressed as Santa Claus, who identified himself as Francisco, holds
a sign that says "Work," at a protest in Mexico City's Zocale Plaza
yesterday. The group, which employs themselves as photographers and
Santa Clauses to pose with children during the December holiday season,
is protesting the authorities to allow them to work in the plaza the week
before Christmas.

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