RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-1455
Appellee 
Bossier Parish School Board
Appellant 
Reno
Consolidation 
Price v. Bossier Parish School Board, No. 95-1508
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the non-federal appellants)
(Argued the cause on behalf of the federal appellant)
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Facts of the Case 

The Bossier Parrish School Board is subject to the preclearance requirements of ?5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Therefore, the Board must obtain the approval of either the Attorney General or the District Court before implementing any changes to a voting "qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure." Based on the 1990 census, the Board redrew its 12 single member districts, adopting the redistricting plan that the Attorney General had precleared for use in elections of the parish's governing body. The Board rejected a plan proposed by the NAACP, which would have created two majority black districts. The Attorney General then objected to the preclearance, finding that the NAACP plan demonstrated that black residents were sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to constitute a majority in two districts and that the Board's plan unnecessarily limited the opportunity for minority voters to elect their candidates of choice, thereby diluting their voting strength in violation of ?2 of the Act. Subsequently, the Attorney General withheld preclearance to prevent a violation of ?2 of the Act. The Board filed an action with the District Court. A three-judge panel granted the Board's preclearance request. The court rejected the contentions that a voting change's failure to satisfy ?2 of the Act constituted an independent reason to deny preclearance under ?5 and that a court must consider evidence of a ?2 violation as evidence of a discriminatory purpose under ?5.

Question 

Must preclearance be denied under ?5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 whenever a covered jurisdiction's new voting "standard, practice, or procedure" violates ?2 of the Act? Is evidence that a new "standard, practice, or procedure" has a dilutive impact irrelevant to the inquiry whether the covered jurisdiction acted with a discriminatory purpose under ?5 of the Act?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Reno, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Voting Rights Act of 1965

No and no. In an opinion authored by Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, the Court ruled that preclearance under ?5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may not be denied solely on the basis that a covered jurisdiction's new voting "standard, practice, or procedure" violates ? 2 of the Act. Additionally, evidence showing that a jurisdiction's redistricting plan dilutes minorities' voting power may be relevant to establish a jurisdiction's "intent to retrogress" under ?5 of the Act.

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RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1455>.
RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1455 (last visited June 20, 2014).
"RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1455.