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Briscoe v. Bell

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued April 20, 1977 ; June 20, 1977;

No. 76-60.

Opinion

  [*405]   [***441]   [**2429]  MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

At issue in this case is the construction of § 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U. S. C. § 1973b (1970 ed. and Supp. V). "The Voting Rights Act was designed by Congress to banish the blight of racial discrimination in voting." South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U. S. 301, 308 (1966). While the Act has had a dramatic effect in increasing the participation of black citizens in the electoral process, both as voters and  [***442]  elected officials,  [****4]  Congress has not viewed it as an unqualified success. 2 Most recently, as part of the 1975 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, 89 Stat. 400, Congress extended the Act's strong protections to cover language minorities -- that is, citizens living in environments where the dominant language is not English. Congress concluded after extensive hearings that there was "overwhelming evidence" showing "the ingenuity and prevalence of discriminatory practices that have been used to dilute the voting strength and otherwise  [*406]  affect the voting rights of language minorities." 3 Concern was particularly expressed over the plight of Mexican-American citizens in Texas, a State that had not been covered by the 1965 Act. 4 This case arises out of Texas' efforts  [**2430]  to prevent application of the 1975 amendments to it.

 [****5]  I

Petitioners, the Governor and Secretary of State of Texas, filed suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia against the Attorney General of the United States and the Director of the Census. 5 ] These officials are responsible for  [*407]  determining whether the preconditions for application of the Act to particular jurisdictions are met. See § 4(b) of the Act, 42 U. S. C.§ 1973b(b) (1970 ed., Supp. V). 6 Petitioners sought interlocutory injunctive relief to restrain official publication of respondents' determinations that Texas was covered  [***443]  by the 1975 amendments, and a "declaratory judgment" determining "how and under what circumstances the determinations… should be made." 7 Pet. for Cert. 6.

 [****6]  

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432 U.S. 404 *; 97 S. Ct. 2428 **; 53 L. Ed. 2d 439 ***; 1977 U.S. LEXIS 126 ****

BRISCOE, GOVERNOR OF TEXAS, ET AL. v. BELL, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL.

Prior History: CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

CORE TERMS

determinations, judicial review, district court, voting rights, voting, preclusion, coverage

Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Voting Rights, Language Discrimination, Governments, Native Americans, Authority & Jurisdiction, Federal Government, Elections, Legislation, Interpretation, Enforcement Actions, Employees & Officials, Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Reviewability, General Overview, Dismissal, Involuntary Dismissals, Failure to State Claims, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Constitutional Law, Elections, Terms & Voting, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Preclusion, Removal, Postremoval Remands, Appellate Review, Remands