Copyright (c) 2009 North Carolina Central University School of Law
North Carolina Central Law Review
ARTICLE: EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES DO NOT ALWAYS EQUATE TO EQUAL REPRESENTATION: HOW BARTLETT V. STRICKLAND IS A REGRESSION IN THE FACE OF THE ONGOING CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL LAW REVIEW
32 N.C. Cent. L. Rev. 102
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 1 ("V.R.A.") was established in an effort to guarantee minorities their right to have adequate representation in government. 2 The Constitution guarantees a republican form of government. However, equal representation and the right to vote are not always synonymous. 3 The United States Supreme Court's ("Supreme Court") recent decision in Bartlett v. Strickland changes the prior interpretation of § 2 of the V.R.A., by clarifying and limiting the threshold test previously established in Gingles v. Thornburg. 4 Prior to this decision, the Supreme Court had not applied Gingles to mechanically foreclose § 2 protection to minority crossover and influence districts who asserted claims of dilution. 5 The Bartlett decision changes the law in two ways. 6 First, it interpreted and established a rigid 50% population threshold test for minority communities who seek to bring a claim of vote dilution under § 2 of the V.R.A. 7 Second, since the state-official defendants used § 2 as a defense, the holding effectively changes North Carolina ("N.C.") law. 8 The holding prohibits the N.C. legislature from drawing districts in a manner that would allow minorities from surrounding district areas to collectively vote to elect a candidate of their choice. 9
In effect, the Bartlett decision means that minorities in voting districts, where their prospective population constitutes less than 50% of the total population, are not entitled to protection under the V.R.A. as a minority opportunity district. 10 The Supreme Court also affirmed that the ...
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