Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
City of Rome v. United States
In 1970 the Appellant City had a population of 30,759. Of its citizens, 76.6% were white, and 23.4% were African-American. The governmental structure of the City, as set up in the City’s charter, which was approved by the State of Georgia in 1918, provided for a nine-member city commission and a five-member board of education to be elected by a plurality of the vote. The city was divided into nine wards, and one commissioner was to be chosen from each ward, while there was no residency requirements for the board of education. In 1966 the General Assembly of Georgia passed several laws affecting the electoral scheme of Appellant City. The legislature reduced the number of wards from nine to three, and each commissioner was elected by the populous at large rather than on a per-ward basis. The Attorney General of the United States declined to preclear the newly enacted provisions, and concluded that a city such as Appellant, in which the population is predominately white and raci al bloc voting has been common that these electoral changes would deprive African-American voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. Appellant city then sought relief from the Act. The District Court rejected Appellant’s arguments and granted summary judgment for Respondent. Appellant appealed.
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