Jeffers et al v. Beebe et al
ORDER denying pltfs' request for an injunction postponing the primary election for Arkansas Senate District 24, which is the subject of this lawsuit, as well as Senate Districts 22 and 23, until the date of the general election, November 6, 2012. Signed by Chief Judge J. Leon Holmes on 5/11/12. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FUTURE MAE JEFFERS; MARY JEFFERS;
HENRY PEACOCK; SHIRLEY HARVELL;
REV. RONALD WILLIAMS; PEGGY R. WRIGHT;
LAURA LOVE; FRANK SHAW; C.W. CAMPBELL;
LEO CHITMAN; ETTA CAMPBELL; PLEZ LUCAS;
VICKIE ROBERTSON; JOSEPH PERRY; ELBERT SMITH;
SANDRA BAGLEY; NIKKI DISMUKE; ALICE W. VALLEY;
LAKETHA BROWN FLUKER; KATRINA HARRELL;
CHESTER HARRELL; EDDIE O’NEAL; CHRISTOPHER
FRANKLIN; and JACK BERNARD CRUMBLY
No. 2:12CV00016 JLH
MIKE BEEBE, in his capacity as Governor of Arkansas
and Chairman of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment;
MARK MARTIN, in his capacity as Secretary of State
of Arkansas and as a member of the Arkansas Board
of Apportionment; DUSTIN MCDANIEL, in his
capacity as Attorney General of Arkansas and a member
of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment; and
ARKANSAS BOARD OF APPORTIONMENT
Before Three Judge Panel
District Judge Holmes, Circuit Judge Smith, and District Judge Wright
During the rebuttal portion of their closing argument, the plaintiffs requested that the Court
enter an injunction postponing the primary election for Arkansas Senate District 24, which is the
subject of this lawsuit, as well as Senate Districts 22 and 23,1 until the date of the general election,
November 6, 2012.
The Court takes judicial notice that District 22 has an incumbent senator who is unopposed,
and that District 23 has one Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate. If the boundaries
of those districts are modified, however, all of that could change.
In one of the seminal reapportionment cases, the United States Supreme Court explained:
[U]nder certain circumstances, such as where an impending election is imminent and
a State’s election machinery is already in progress, equitable considerations might
justify a court in withholding the granting of immediately effective relief in a
legislative apportionment case, even though the existing apportionment scheme was
found invalid. In awarding or withholding immediate relief, a court is entitled to and
should consider the proximity of a forthcoming election and the mechanics and
complexities of state election laws, and should act and rely upon general equitable
Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 585, 84 S. Ct. 1362, 1394, 12 L. Ed. 2d 506 (1964). “The decision
to enjoin an impending election is so serious that the Supreme Court has allowed elections to go
forward even in the face of an undisputed constitutional violation.” Sw. Voter Registration Educ.
Project v. Shelley, 344 F.3d 914, 918 (9th Cir. 2003) (collecting cases).
Here, the 2012 primary elections in the State of Arkansas have already begun. Although the
official primary election date is May 22, 2012, that date marks the conclusion (except for any
potential runoffs) of the primary elections in Arkansas in 2012. Precinct boundaries and polling sites
have been determined, election proclamations have been issued, and ballots have been printed. Early
voting began on May 7, 2012. No doubt, votes have already been cast, including both absentee votes
and early votes cast in person. “These investments of time, money, and the exercise of citizenship
rights cannot be returned.” Shelley, 344 F.3d at 919. In considering general equitable principles as
they apply in reapportionment cases, the Court has concluded that it is too late to enjoin these
elections, which are already under way.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ motion presumes that, if they prevail on the merits, the remedy
will affect Senate Districts 22, 23, and 24, and only those districts. While there is evidence that
Senate districts could be drawn in such a way as to give the plaintiffs the relief that they request while
altering only Districts 22, 23, and 24, if the plaintiffs prevail on the merits, the Arkansas Board of
Apportionment will have the right and the responsibility to draw new districts. “They are the
authorities charged by state law with the responsibility of drawing a plan of apportionment, and they
should also bear the primary responsibility for conforming the present plan to the requirements of
federal law.” Jeffers v. Clinton, 730 F. Supp. 196, 217 (E.D. Ark. 1989). While it may be that, if
the Court finds in favor of the plaintiffs on the merits, the Board will draw new Senate districts so as
to modify the boundaries of Districts 22, 23, and 24, and only those districts, the Court cannot
presume that the Board will do so.
In explaining the reasons for denying the plaintiffs’ motion, the Court has not commented on
the merits of the case, nor should any inference be drawn from this order as to what the decision on
the merits will be. No decision on the merits has been reached.
Nor is anything in this order
intended to suggest that the plaintiffs were dilatory in prosecuting this action.
I am authorized to state that Circuit Judge Lavenski R. Smith and District Judge Susan
Webber Wright join in this order.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of May, 2012.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?