Brief Fact Summary. The Appellants, Rogers and seven other black citizens from Burke County, Georgia (Appellants) challenged the constitutionality of an at-large voting scheme that violated the United States Constitution (Constitution) despite the scheme’s racial neutrality.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Racially-neutral voting schemes do not necessary pass constitutional muster when there is a showing that the scheme actual perpetuates racial discrimination.
Issue. Whether the at-large system of elections in Burke County, Georgia violates the Fourteenth Amendment rights of Burke County’s black citizens despite being racially – neutral in its application.
Held. Justice Byron White (J. White). Yes. The at-large voting scheme, although racially neutral, was maintained for invidious or discriminatory purposes. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.
Dissent. Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell). The Supreme Court of the United States’ affirmation of the District Court and the Court of Appeals finding that the Burke County electoral voting scheme maintained a discriminatory purpose, despite its racially-neutrality, was based on insufficient factors pursuant to Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980). The factors espoused by the lower courts “are too attenuated as a matter of law to support an inference of discriminatory intent . . .”
Discussion. Voting schemes cannot hide under the veil of racial-neutrality when it maintains a racially-discriminatory intent.