Blanding v. DuBose - 454 U.S. 393 (1982)
U.S. Supreme Court
Blanding v. DuBose, 454 U.S. 393 (1982)
Blanding v. DuBose
Decided January 11, 1982
454 U.S. 393
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires a political subdivision that enacts a voting procedure different from that in effect on November 1, 1964, either to seek a declaratory judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia approving the procedure or to submit the procedure to the Attorney General for preclearance. In 1976, the County Council of Sumter County, S.C. adopted a council-administrator form of government with at-large elections. When this governmental structure was submitted to the Attorney General for preclearance, he made a timely objection to the at-large method of election, and subsequently, when the county asked him to reconsider, refused to withdraw his objection. Private parties and the United States then brought separate suits in Federal District Court to prevent at-large elections, and, after the suits were consolidated, the District Court permanently enjoined County Council elections until the Voting Rights Act's requirements were fulfilled. In 1978, a county referendum approved at-large elections. In 1979, the county wrote a letter to the Attorney General advising him of the referendum results, but, referring to the letter as a "request for reconsideration," he still refused to withdraw his objection to at-large elections. Thereafter, defendant-appellees moved the District Court for summary judgment, contending that the 1979 letter was a preclearance submission, not a request for reconsideration, and that the Attorney General had not interposed an objection to the preclearance submission within the required time period. The District Court agreed.
Held: The 1979 letter was a reconsideration request, not a preclearance submission. Because the 1978 referendum did no more than endorse an election method that previously had been submitted to the Attorney General and that was the subject of an outstanding objection, the letter did not amount to a new preclearance submission. It was nothing more than a request that the Attorney General reconsider his earlier objection in light of the referendum results.
509 F.Supp. 1334, reversed.