Document Type

Article

Abstract

This Article argues that the renewed disenfranchisement of blacks from districting remedies may be curbed through the use of community-based evidence similar to that used by lesbian and gay activists. Section One will explore the current position of blacks in the districting system, scrutinizing recent changes in the law that deprive blacks of their previously “protected” status under the Voting Rights Act. In 1995, the Miller v. Johnson decision notably held that race cannot be the predominant factor in the drawing of district lines. Blacks wishing to ensure that their interests are represented in the political process will therefore need to employ standards for creating electoral districts that do not violate Miller. A close reading of the Miller decision indicates that evidence of community cohesiveness, rather than mere “hard” population statistics, would satisfy the Court. Section Two will address the use of community-based evidence to establish district lines reflecting lesbian and gay interests. An examination of the 1991 redistricting for the New York City council provides a close look at the forces weighing on lesbian and gay districting efforts. Lesbian and gay districting experiences in Texas and California further clarify districting issues. These examples demonstrate the critical role community-based evidence has played in lesbian and gay redistricting efforts. The representation attained by lesbian and gay communities depends upon both the jurisdiction's contextual homophobia and the community's own strength. Community-based statistics are generally extrapolated from evidence of three primary types: maps depicting lesbian and gay businesses and community groups; maps depicting the membership of community religious, political, and social groups; and maps depicting voter support for lesbian, gay, or supportive candidates. Section Three of this article describes ways in which lesbian and gay districting experiences may prove useful for blacks involved in gaining greater representation in districting systems. In the wake of the Miller decision, the use of the community-based statistics typically employed in lesbian and gay districting efforts is a potentially effective strategy for racial minorities attempting to achieve electoral representation.