Reno v. Bossier Parish School Bd., 528 U.S. 320 (2000)

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appeal from the united states district court for the district of columbia

No. 98-405. Argued April 26, 1999—Reargued October 6, 1999—Decided January 24, 2000*

Bossier Parish, Louisiana, a jurisdiction covered by 5 of the Voting

Rights Act of 1965, is thereby prohibited from enacting any change in a "voting qualification[,] prerequisite[,] standard, practice, or procedure" without first obtaining preclearance from either the Attorney General or the District Court. When, following the 1990 census, the Bossier Parish School Board (Board) submitted a proposed redistricting plan to the Attorney General, she denied preclearance. The Board then filed this preclearance action in the District Court. Section 5 authorizes preclearance of a proposed voting change that "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." Appellants conceded that the Board's plan did not have a prohibited "effect" under 5, since it was not "retrogressive," i. e., did not worsen the position of minority voters, see Beer v. United States, 425 U. S. 130, but claimed that it violated 5 because it was enacted for a discriminatory "purpose." The District Court granted preclearance. On appeal, this Court disagreed with the District Court's proposition that all evidence of a dilutive (but nonretrogressive) effect forbidden by 2 was irrelevant to whether the Board enacted the plan with a retrogressive purpose forbidden by 5. Reno v. Bossier Parish School Bd., 520 U. S. 471, 486-487 (Bossier Parish I). This Court vacated and remanded for further proceedings as to the Board's purpose in adopting its plan, id., at 486, leaving for the District Court the question whether the 5 purpose inquiry ever extends beyond the search for retrogressive intent, ibid. On remand, the District Court again granted preclearance. Concluding, inter alia, that there was no evidence of discriminatory but nonretrogressive purpose, the court left open the question whether 5 prohibits preclearance of a plan enacted with such a purpose.

*Together with No. 98-406, Price et al. v. Bossier Parish School Bd., also on appeal from the same court.

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