RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
98-405
Appellee 
Bossier Parish School Board
Appellant 
Reno
Consolidation 
No. 98-406
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for appellants Price, et al)
(Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellant Reno)
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Facts of the Case 

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on 1995 prohibits Bossier Parish, Louisiana 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. Following the 1990 census, the District Court granted Bossier Parish preclearance to redistrict. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Reno v. Bossier Parish School Bd., 520 U.S. 471, vacated the court's judgment and remanded for the court to question whether the section 5 purpose inquiry ever extends beyond the search for retrogressive intent. The District Court again granted preclearance. The court found that there was no evidence of discriminatory but nonretrogressive purpose. The court left open the question of whether section 5 prohibits preclearance of a plan enacted with such a purpose.

Question 

Does section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibit preclearance of a redistricting plan enacted with a discriminatory but nonretrogressive purpose?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Bossier Parish School Board, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Voting Rights Act of 1965

No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that section 5 does not prohibit preclearance of a redistricting plan enacted with a discriminatory but nonretrogressive purpose. "As we have repeatedly noted, in vote-dilution cases [section 5] prevents nothing but backsliding, and preclearance under [section 5] affirms nothing but the absence of backsliding," wrote Justice Scalia. Justices David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens and Stephen G. Breyer wrote dissenting opinions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the opinions of Justices Souter and Stevens. "Now executive and judicial officers of the United States will be forced to preclear illegal and unconstitutional voting schemes patently intended to perpetuate discrimination," argued Justice Souter.

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RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 31 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_98_405>.
RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_98_405 (last visited October 31, 2014).
"RENO v. BOSSIER PARISH SCHOOL BOARD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 31, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_98_405.