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U.S. Supreme Court

Escambia County v. McMillan, 466 U.S. 48 (1984)

Escambia County v. McMillan

No. 82-1295

Argued January 10, 1984

Decided March 27, 1984

466 U.S. 48


Appellee black voters of Escambia County, Fla., filed suit in Federal District Court, alleging that the at-large system for electing County Commissioners, by diluting appellees' voting strength, violated various federal constitutional and statutory provisions. The court entered judgment for appellees, holding that the election system violated, inter alia, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the ground that the election system violated the Fourteenth Amendment, but did not review the District Court's conclusion as to the violation of the Voting Rights Act. This appeal presented the question whether the evidence of discriminatory intent in the record was adequate to support the District Court's finding that the at-large system violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

Held: Normally, this Court will not decide a constitutional question if there is some other ground upon which to dispose of the case. The parties have not briefed the question whether the Voting Rights Act provided grounds for affirmance of the District Court's judgment, and, in any event, the question should be decided in the first instance by the Court of Appeals. Therefore, the proper course is to vacate the Court of Appeals' judgment and remand the case to that court for consideration of the statutory question.

688 F.2d 960, vacated and remanded.

Page 466 U. S. 49

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