McCoy v. Chicago Heights Election Commission, No. 16-3463 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In 1987, African‐Americans filed suit against Chicago Heights, alleging dilution of voting opportunity. The election practices at issue were found to violate the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10101. Appellants split from other class plaintiffs and objected to the first consent decree; they have been the main opposition to proposed remedies. In 2010, the district court entered a consent decree, establishing a seven‐ward, single aldermanic form of government; including a ward map that complied with constitutional requirements; and requiring the city to reapportion the wards as the population changed. The subsequent 2010 census showed that the wards’ populations had changed, requiring reapportionment. After public comment, the city approved its redrawn ward map and sought approval of that map. Appellants objected and sought leave to file their own map for implementation by the court. The court held that the Decree gave the city the exclusive right to reapportion the wards. The city’s map still contained seven wards, each with an individual population deviation of less than 10 percent. However, the overall deviation was 12.65%. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the proposed map is constitutional. The city presented sufficient justification and made a good faith effort to reapportion the map with the smallest population deviations practicable, using legitimate and nondiscriminatory objectives, such as maintaining historical and natural boundary lines where possible, and easing voter confusion by redrawing unusual boundaries.