Voting Rights Case
Seeking fair representation
In 1988, Alabama still used a voting system that had been found racially discriminatory in other states. Only 11 of 223 trial judges were black, less than 5%. The imbalance was based in a voting system that favored non-minority candidates.
The at-large voting system had been challenged and replaced in cities, counties and states across the South, including some parts of Alabama. But the system was still being used to elect trial court judges in Alabama. The Center sued the state on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and 16 individual voters.
The complaint charged that the at-large system was racially inspired, racially discriminatory, and that it denied racial minorities the opportunity to elect judicial candidates of their choice. At trial, the Center presented statistical, expert, and anecdotal evidence to show that the system was unfair to black voters and black judicial candidates.
The District Court was not persuaded, however, and decided that the voting scheme did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Constitution.