Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461, 16 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court


Before addressing the merits of Georgia's preclearance claim, we address the State's argument that the District Court was incorrect in allowing the private litigants to intervene in this lawsuit. Georgia maintains that private parties should not be allowed to intervene in 5 actions because States should not be subjected to the political stratagems of intervenors. While the United States disagrees with Georgia on the propriety of intervention here, the United States argues that this question is moot because the participation of the intervenors did not affect the District Court's ruling on the merits and the intervenors did not appeal the court's ruling.

We do not think Georgia's argument is moot. The inter-venors did not have to appeal because they were prevailing parties below. Moreover, the District Court addressed the evidence that the intervenors submitted, which is now in front of this Court. The issue whether intervenors are proper parties still has relevance in this Court because they argue here that the District Court correctly found that the Senate plan was retrogressive.

The District Court properly found that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 governs intervention in this case. Section 5 permits a State to bring "an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment." 42 U. S. C. 1973c. Section 5 does not limit in any way the application of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to this type of lawsuit, and the statute by its terms does not bar private parties from intervening. In NAACP v. New York, 413 U. S. 345, 365 (1973), we held that in an action under 5, "[i]ntervention in a federal court suit is governed by Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 24."

To support its argument, Georgia relies on Morris v. Gressette, 432 U. S. 491 (1977). In Morris, we held that in an administrative preclearance action, the decision to object belongs only to the Attorney General and is not judicially

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