OCTOBER TERM, 1992
appeal from the united states district court for the district of minnesota
No. 91-1420. Argued November 2, 1992—Decided February 23, 1993
Shortly after a group of Minnesota voters filed a state-court action against the Minnesota Secretary of State and other election officials, appellee voters filed a similar action against essentially the same officials in the Federal District Court. Both suits alleged that, in light of the 1990 census results, the State's congressional and legislative districts were malapportioned, in violation of the Federal and State Constitutions; the federal suit contained the additional claim that the current districts diluted the vote of minority groups in Minneapolis, in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both suits sought declaration that the current districts were unlawful, and judicial construction of new districts if the state legislature failed to act. After the state legislature adopted a new legislative districting plan, which contained numerous drafting errors, a second federal action was filed raising constitutional challenges to the new legislative districts; the two federal suits were consolidated. The District Court set a deadline for the legislature to act on redistricting plans, but refused to abstain or defer to the state-court proceedings. The state court, having found the new legislative districts defective because of the drafting errors, issued a preliminary legislative redistricting plan correcting most of those errors, to be held in abeyance pending further action by the legislature. Before the state court could take additional action, the District Court stayed the state-court proceedings; this Court vacated that stay. When the Governor vetoed the legislature's effort to correct the defective legislative redistricting plan, and to adopt new congressional districts, the state court issued a final order adopting its legislative plan, and held hearings on the congressional plans submitted by the parties. Before the state court could issue a congressional plan, however, the District Court adopted its own redistricting plans, both legislative and congressional, and permanently enjoined interference with state implementation of those plans. The District Court found, in effect, that the state court's legislative plan violated the Voting Rights Act because it did not contain a "super-majority minority" Senate district; its own plan contained such a district, designed to create a majority composed of at least three separately identifiable minority groups.
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