State moves to dismiss discrimination suit over new cities

The Georgia Attorney General's Office filed a motion late Friday to dismiss a case seeking to dissolve the city charters of Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton and Sandy Springs.

Attorneys for the state said incorporation of the new cities "does not diminish anyone’s existing right to vote and did not violate the Voting Rights Act."

The action comes in response to a lawsuit, filed April 11 against Gov. Nathan Deal in North Georgia U.S. District Court, by the Legislative Black Caucus. The suit alleges the state skirted the normal legislative process and set aside its own criteria when creating the “super-majority white” cities within DeKalb and Fulton counties. In so doing, the suit argues, it diluted minority votes in those areas, violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Sandy Springs incorporated in December 2005. The other cities followed in the next three years.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who is among the plaintiffs who filed the suit, said late Friday that he would let attorneys make an official response. But the civil rights leader said he thinks the original charges are correct.

The state's motion to dismiss argues that incorporation of the cities created new governmental bodies, not a redistricting of existing governmental bodies. They do not diminish anyone’s existing right to vote and did not violate the Voting Rights Act, it says.

"Nor did the creation of these municipalities discriminate on the basis of race [or any suspect class, for that matter] and does not violate equal protection," the state's motion states. "Indeed, anyone -- including the plaintiffs -- is free to live inside or outside of one of the municipalities as they may choose."

Finally, the state argues the plaintiffs sued the wrong party. The governor did not create the cities and cannot grant relief, the motion states, even if the claims are valid.