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Wright v. State

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 17, 2014

CALLA WRIGHT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, and THE WAKE COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, Defendants

Page 540

For Calla Wright, Willie J. Bethel, Amy T. Lee, Amygayle L. Womble, John G. Vandenbergh, Barbara Vandenbergh, Ajamu G. Dillahunt, Elaine E. Dillahunt, Lucinda H. Mackethan, William B. Clifford, Ann Long Campbell, Greg Flynn, Beverley S. Clark, Concerned Citizens for African-American Children, doing business as Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children, Raleigh Wake Citizens Association, Plaintiffs: Anita S. Earls, LEAD ATTORNEY, Allison Jean Riggs, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Durham, NC.

For State of North Carolina, Defendant: Alexander McClure Peters, LEAD ATTORNEY, N.C. Department of Justice, Raleigh, NC.

For Wake County Board of Elections, Defendant: Kenneth R. Murphy, III, Roger A. Askew, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Claire Alise Hunter, Wake County Attorney's Office, Raleigh, NC; Scott Wood Warren, LEAD ATTORNEY, Raleigh, NC.

OPINION

Page 541

ORDER

TERRENCE W. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on defendant State of North Carolina's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) [DE 29], defendant Wake County Board of Elections' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [DE 27], and plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). The motions are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, defendant State of North Carolina's motion to dismiss is GRANTED, defendant Wake County Board of Elections' motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and plaintiff's motion to amend is DENIED AS FUTILE.

BACKGROUND

Thirteen individual citizens of Wake County, North Carolina and two associations of citizens initiated this action by filing, through counsel, a complaint on August 22, 2013. The complaint asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for defendants' alleged violation of plaintiffs' equal protection rights under both the United States and North Carolina Constitutions resulting from the North Carolina General Assembly's enactment of S.L. 2013-110, a local bill implementing a new redistricting plan for electing members of the Wake County School Board. Plaintiffs' complaint seeks relief in the form of a declaratory judgment and a preliminary, mandatory injunction requiring the defendants to conduct lawful elections for the Wake

Page 542

County Board of Education using an election method and districting system which complies with the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, § 19 of the North Carolina Constitution.

DISCUSSION

I. THIS COURT'S JURISDICTION OVER THE STATE.

The State of North Carolina has moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), claiming that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the State in this case because the State has immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. [DE 29]. It is firmly established in Supreme Court precedent that " a State may not be sued in federal court by one of its own citizens." California v. Deep Sea Research, 523 U.S. 491, 501, 118 S.Ct. 1464, 140 L.Ed.2d 626 (1998); see also Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842 (1890). Plaintiff named the State as a defendant with the hope that the state would consent to federal jurisdiction and waive its immunity. [DE 35 at 21]; Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Syst. of Ga., 535 U.S. 613, 619, 122 S.Ct. 1640, 152 L.Ed.2d 806 (2002). However, as the State has raised Eleventh Amendment immunity as a defense, plaintiffs agree that their claim cannot proceed against the state. [DE 35 at 21]; [DE 33]. This Court lacks jurisdiction over the State here and therefore defendant State of North Carolina's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is granted.

II. PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO AMEND.

Recognizing that the State has Eleventh Amendment immunity to suit here, plaintiffs seek to amend their complaint by dropping the State as a defendant and adding North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tern Phil Berger, and North Carolina ...


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