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Lawsuit to dissolve new cities rejected by federal panel
A federal appeals panel has rejected black state legislators' challenge to the creation of new cities in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
The lawsuit appeared to be the first of its kind in the nation and sought the dissolution of the cities of Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek, Chattahoochee Hills and Dunwoody. Pointing out that whites make up large majorities of the new cities, while whites are in the minority in Fulton and DeKalb, the suit alleged that the creation of the new cities diluted African-Americans' voting power, access and influence.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. had dismissed the suit, filed under the Voting Rights Act and 14th and 15th Amendments. Batten said the plaintiffs' theory effectively would mean prohibiting the state from creating any municipality in any area that is predominantly white but located within a majority-black county, something he said the court lacked the power to do.
Monday's unpublished three-page decision by Judges Rosemary Barkett and Adalberto Jordan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and a visiting Seventh Circuit judge said the sole defendant, Governor Nathan Deal, has no power to provide any of the relief requested by the plaintiffs.
Norcross lawyer Jerome Lee, representing the plaintiffs, said in an email that his clients likely would not file an appeal but an amended lawsuit addressing attempts by the General Assembly to restructure Fulton County to give more power to its northern parts.
The case was Lowery v. Deal, No. 12-11600.