On July 13, 2015, the City of Greensboro, North Carolina, and a group of Greensboro residents filed a lawsuit against the Guilford County Board of Elections, challenging the constitutionality of "the Greensboro Act," which was a local bill passed by the state General Assembly on July 2, 2015. The Act's provisions included a change to the City's method of electing its eight city council members from three at large and five single-member districts to eight single member districts drawn by the General Assembly, modifications to the Mayor's voting power and the elected officials' terms, and a prohibition on citizens changing or amending the City's form of government. The plaintiffs alleged that several of the Act's districts were racial gerrymanders in violation of the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions, that several of the Act's districts were malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement, and that the Act's prohibition on the ability of citizens to change the City's governmental structure, as all other localities in North Carolina are permitted to do, violated the equal protection clause of the N.C. Constitution. They sought a court declaration that the Act was unconstitutional, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief barring the defendant from enforcing, implementing, or giving any effect to the Act, and either a restoration of the City's prior election method or the implementation of a new, constitutionally compliant districting scheme.

On April 3, 2017, the district court ruled that the Act's provision prohibiting citizens from modifying the City's government structure was unconstitutional, finding that the intentional, differential treatment of Greensboro citizens was not rationally related to any legitimate governmental purpose. It also ruled that the Act's districting scheme did not comply with one person, one vote in violation of the equal protection clause, and granted a permanent injunction barring the Act's enforcement and preserving the City's pre-existing election system unless and until it was lawfully changed. The district court's judgment and permanent injunction was entered on April 13, 2017.


U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina - No. 1:15-cv-559