A 31-page motion for a preliminary injunction was filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Oct. 17 against Gov. Nathan Deal and on behalf of Joseph Lowery, the Georgia Black Caucus, and seven registered voters who are black or of African descent from Dunwoody, Johnís Creek, DeKalb and Brookhaven.
The motion asks for a federal judge to enjoin the state from ìcontinuing the implementation of laws designed to incorporate the City of Brookhaven,î including the election of a governing body on Nov. 6.
Voters approved DeKalbís newest and largest city on July 31 with 54 percent of the votes of the residents within the 2-mile-wide, 6-mile-long city. The city of Brookhaven has a population of 49,188 and 14 percent of the countyís real estate tax base. It is 27 percent commercial, compared with 21 percent for the county, and is home to major corporate offices and commercial properties, including Perimeter Summit, with total assessed value of $687 million.
Plaintiffs asked for an emergency hearing on their motion to be held before the election day. They also pointed out that a similar lawsuit is scheduled for oral arguments in early January in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
They accused the state of Georgia of creating ìhigh income, majority white municipalities from minority controlled counties, with the effect of significantly diluting the voting rights and political influence of the plaintiffs.î
They said the state violated the plaintiffsí civil rights.
The motion said there are plans to pass additional laws to create a Milton County and the city of Druid Hills, which ìwill further dilute the voting power and political authority of the plaintiffs.î
The lawsuit said blacks have become the dominant racial group in Fulton and DeKalb over the past 30 years. Starting in 2005, the state has tried to ìblunt the emergent political power of blacks in these countiesî by passing laws to create predominantly white municipalities in these two counties ñ four in Fulton and Dunwoody and Brookhaven in DeKalb.
It said DeKalb is 54.4 percent black and 30.1 percent white while Dunwoody is only 12.6 percent black and 64.1 percent white. Brookhaven, which will begin operations in December, is 10.9 percent black and 47.7 percent white with an all-white interim leadership council appointed by Deal.
The median household income for DeKalb is $51,000 but is $77,000 in Dunwoody and Brookhaven. The new cities also have higher owner-occupied home values than the county.
The plaintiffs also argue the state went outside the normal legislative process in passing state, not local, legislation to create the six new cities in Fulton and DeKalb. This prevented the black legislators from having input in the legislation.
The motion does not ask for a change in the candidates running for Brookhaven mayor and city council.
In its response filed Oct. 24, attorneys for the state called the motion ìimpractical and impermissibleî and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The state pointed out that eight of the nine plaintiffs had brought a similar lawsuit in 2011 to have five new cities dissolved and a federal judge dismissed that case this March. The Black Caucusí appeal in that case is scheduled for oral arguments in January.
The state also argued that the governor was the wrong defendant, the new cities are subject to county control in the same way Atlanta is, and the cities were created to provide services that were unavailable in unincorporated Fulton and DeKalb.
It contends that all the plaintiffs have the same voting rights in county elections, but that ìthose in the municipalities have new and additional voting rights to also participate in municipal elections.î
The lawyers from the Attorney Generalís Office also contend the plaintiffsí ìnovel proposalî to allow all voters in a county to vote in municipal elections ìwould pose a logistical nightmareî and ìwould prove virtually unworkable in practice.î