This appeal presents questions as to the appropriate standards of proof and appropriate remedy in suits that allege a violation of voting rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment. We do not reach these questions, however, as it appears that the judgment under review may rest alternatively upon a statutory ground of decision.
Appellees, black voters of Escambia County, Fla., filed suit in the District Court, alleging that the at-large system for electing the five members of the Board of County Commissioners violated appellees' rights under the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 71 Stat. 637, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1971(a)(1), and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 437, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1973.
The District Court entered judgment for appellees. That court found that the at-large system used by the county discriminated against black voters and had been retained at least in part for discriminatory purposes. The court concluded that the system violated appellees' rights under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Voting Rights Act. The District Court ordered that the five commissioners be elected from single-member districts.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's judgment, concluding that the at-large election system violated the Fourteenth Amendment and that the District Court's
We noted probable jurisdiction, 460 U.S. 1080 (1983).
This appeal presents the question whether the evidence of discriminatory intent in the record before the District Court was adequate to support the finding that the at-large system violated the Fourteenth Amendment. We decline to decide this question. As the Court of Appeals noted, the District Court's judgment rested alternatively upon the Voting Rights Act. See 688 F. 2d, at 961, n. 2; App. to Juris. Statement 101a. Moreover, the 1982 amendments to that Act, Pub. L. 97-205, § 3, 96 Stat. 134, 42 U. S. C. § 1973(b),
The parties have not briefed the statutory question, and, in any event, that question should be decided in the first instance
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, while joining the Court's per curiam opinion, would disallow costs in this case.
JUSTICE MARSHALL, dissenting.
Contrary to appellants' contention,
I respectfully dissent.
Appellees do contend that the issue of appropriate remedy is moot, a contention that we need not reach in light of our disposition of the case. See n. 6, infra. Nor need we reach appellees' contention that the case is not a proper appeal, a contention that may involve difficult questions of Florida law, as we would in any event treat the jurisdictional statement as a petition for certiorari, grant that petition, and dispose of the case as we do today. See 28 U. S. C. § 2103; El Paso v. Simmons, 379 U.S. 497, 501-503 (1965).
"(a) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen . . . to vote on account of race or color . . . .
"(b) A violation of subsection (a) is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes leading to nomination or election in the State or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) in that its members have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. . . ."