On Novermber 12, 1991, residents and registered voters of St. Louis County filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division. Plaintiffs, ...
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On Novermber 12, 1991, residents and registered voters of St. Louis County filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division. Plaintiffs, represented by private council, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging failure on the part of the Election Commissioners to reapportion St. Louis County voting districts in compliance with Articles I and II of the Missouri Constitution as well as the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs contended that current St. Loius County Council district populations deviated too far from the ideal district size calculated under the 1990 census.
Article II, Section 2.035 of the Missouri Constitution mandated district reapportionment following a decennial census. A board of election commissioners, composed of 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans, was charged with the reapportionment scheme. While there was a general consensus that a "minority district" should be established, disagreement arose over the percentage of African Americans that would compose such a district. Four plans were presented: one by the Democratic members of the committee; one by the Republican members; one by BECO (Black Elected County Officials); and one by Mayor Williams of Velda City. Plans required 9 votes to be approved. After no plan received more than 7 votes of approval, plaintiffs filed suit.
On January 21, 1992 the District Court (Judge Jean C. Hamilton) ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, granting both declaratory and injunctive relief and concluded that a modified Williams Plan best satisfied current constitutional and statutory goals of apportionment. Fletcher v. Golder, No. 91-2314C(7), 1992 WL 100330 (EDMO Jan. 21, 1992).
On February 24, 1992 defendants appealed, noting discrepancies between the Court's opinion describing the districts and the map attached as an appendix to the judgment. However because they also filed a motion to amend the judgment, the District Court retained jurisdiction to hear the matter. The Court (Judge Hamilton) granted the defendants' motion to amend the judgment. Fletcher v. Golder, No. 91-2314C(7), 1992 WL 105910 (EDMO Feb. 24, 1992).
On March 19, 1992, plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, alleging that the District Court erred by excluding as irrelevant the political motivations behind the different reapportionment plans. There, the Court (Judge Roger L. Wollman) held that the political considerations behind any of the plans was legally irrelevant and the District Court judgment was affirmed. Fletcher v. Golder, 959 F.2d 106 (8th Cir. 1992).David Skillman - 11/15/2006