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Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: A Challenge to State Judicial Election Systems

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 73 Issue: 2 Dated: (August-September 1989) Pages: 68-73
J Haydel
Date Published
6 pages
In reviewing Louisiana court actions that challenge State judicial election systems under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this article examines whether Section 2 applies to judicial elections and if it applies, what remedy should be developed to bring State judicial election systems into compliance with Section 2.
In September 1986, a lawsuit was filed in Federal district court challenging Louisiana's judicial election system, claiming it dilutes minority voting strength. In reversing the district court, the Fifth Circuit Court held that whereas the one-person, one-vote rule does not apply to judicial elections, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 does, since judges are elected officials. The U.S. Supreme Court let the Fifth Circuit's decision stand. During the 1989 regular legislative session, the Louisiana legislature agreed on a new judicial selection method for judges of the State's appellate, district, and family courts. The proposed remedy contains three elements: creation of single-member and/or smaller, multimember sub-election districts in those judicial circuits and districts found in violation of Section 2; creation of senior judge status; and merit selection to select judges for interim vacancies at the appellate and district court levels. This article discusses the potential impact of the proposed changes. 42 footnotes.