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FRENCH v. BONER

June 27, 1991

CHARLES FRENCH, et al.
v.
BILL BONER, MAYOR, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINS

 THOMAS A. HIGGINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the Court as a reapportionment action pursuant to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended (42 U.S.C. § 1971 et seq.), and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988.

 The plaintiffs are three members of the Metropolitan Council, two white and one black; and four private citizens of Nashville, Tennessee, two white and two black.

 Defendant is The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. *fn1" The Metropolitan Government is a consolidated government, pursuant to Section 9, Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution. It is a consolidation of the former city government of Nashville and the former county government of Davidson County, Tennessee. As such, it carries on general governmental functions of a local government in the State of Tennessee, pursuant to its Charter.

 The Metropolitan Government will conduct general elections on August 1, 1991, to elect the Mayor, Vice Mayor, five Council members-at-large and thirty-five single-district Council members in the forty-member Council. The plaintiffs contend, and the defendant concedes, that the current Council districts, which were apportioned in 1981 based upon the 1980 census, are malapportioned in light of the 1990 census.

 The plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the present Metropolitan Council is malapportioned and that the United States Constitution mandates reapportionment prior to the next Council election. The elections are presently scheduled for August 1, 1991, and the qualifying date for candidates was noon on June 6, 1991. *fn2" The plaintiffs request that the Court order the Metropolitan Council to adopt a properly apportioned plan, or, in the alternative, that the Court fashion a reapportionment plan, before the next election. Furthermore, the plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction to enjoin any councilmanic election pending the proper apportionment of the Council based upon the 1990 federal census.

 Jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1343 for causes of action arising under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1971, 1973, 1983 and 1988; and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 for claims based on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

 I.

 On April 24, 1991, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a show cause hearing (Docket Entry No. 2). On April 25, 1991, the Court entered a show cause order (Docket Entry No. 4) requiring the defendant to show cause why the Court should not issue a preliminary injunction to delay the August 1, 1991, Metropolitan councilmanic elections pending the adoption of a reapportionment plan based upon the 1990 census.

 On May 10, 1991, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action on two grounds: (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the action is not ripe and (2) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. *fn3" (Docket Entry No. 10).

 On May 22, 1991, the Court held a show cause hearing. The Court heard oral arguments on the defendant's motion to dismiss and the plaintiffs' application for preliminary injunction on June 5, 1991. Each party has submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, which the Court has considered, along with the numerous other documents filed in this action.

 For the reasons set forth in this memorandum, the Court finds in favor of the defendant on its motion to dismiss.

 II.

 The parties have stipulated to certain facts, which are incorporated herein, along with the salient facts gleaned from the two hearings in this matter.

 The Metropolitan Charter *fn4" provides, inter alia, that the Metropolitan Council will be the legislative body for the government. The Council is divided into thirty-five single-member districts and five Council positions elected at large. Council members, along with the Mayor and Vice Mayor, are elected to four-year terms.

 In 1965, the Charter was amended to provide that, after 1971, general elections are to be held every four years on the first Thursday of August. All persons who are lawfully registered and who are qualified to vote for members of the Tennessee General Assembly shall be eligible to vote in Metropolitan elections.

 There have been two reapportionments of The Metropolitan Government. The Council was reapportioned prior to the 1971 elections based on the data received from the 1970 census. By March 11, 1971, the Planning commission had adopted a reapportionment plan (Ordinance No. 71-1389) and filed it with the Council. This ordinance was introduced in the Council on March 16, ...


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