Gwinnett files new motion to dismiss minority voting rights lawsuit

Oct 31, 2017
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett voters line up outside the county’s elections office in Lawrenceville for early voting during the 2016 presidential election. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

Gwinnett County has filed a new motion arguing for the dismissal of the federal voting rights suit brought against it more than a year ago.

The suit — filed in Atlanta’s  U.S District Court in August 2016 by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Georgia NAACP — argues that Gwinnett’s commission and school board districts are drawn in a way that dilutes the influence of minority voters. Despite Gwinnett having more combined black, Latino and Asian residents than white ones, the lawsuit argues, all of the county commission’s four districts have majority white populations. All but one school board district does too.

Gwinnett has never had a non-white candidate elected to the county commission or school board.

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The county’s attorneys have tried multiple times to have the suit dismissedThey have claimed at different points that “coalitions” of multiple minority groups shouldn’t be treated the same as a single minority group under the federal Voting Rights Act; that GALEO and the NAACP lacked standing to even file the suit; and that some of their proposed solutions, which include eliminating the commission chairman role to create a new district, are tantamount to changing Gwinnett’s form of government.

On Oct. 25, Gwinnett attorneys filed another motion for dismissal, this one in response to the an amended complaint submitted by GALEO and the NAACP about two weeks prior. (Judge Amy Totenberg had permitted the advocacy group to amend their suit to address several questions posed by the county and by the court.)

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The new motion to dismiss makes many of the same arguments the county has posed in the past. 

“As a matter of law,” the motion says, “none of the proposed remedies is viable or proper.”

It was unclear when Totenberg might rule on the new motion to dismiss. The litigation had appeared to be nearing a conclusion, with a recently agreed upon schedule suggesting all motions be in the hands of Totenberg  — who would then issue a summary judgment — by mid-January.

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