State of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Boston City Council Redistricting Challenge 

Walters v. Boston City Council

Lawsuit filed by voters and civic local organizations challenging Boston, Massachusetts’s city council map drawn with 2020 census data. The plaintiffs allege that the redistricting plan for the Boston City Council violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting the voting power of white voters in District 3 “while also diluting the African-American vote in District 4.” The plaintiffs also claim that the map violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because “[t]here was no compelling interest that would excuse the naked racial animus behind the City Council’s plan.” The complaint further argues that the City Council “deliberately diluted” voting power in certain districts “for no valid reason other than their stated purpose of ‘racial balancing.’” Finally, the plaintiffs contend that the “approved map achieves this unconstitutional ‘racial balancing’ by pretending that all non-white citizens of Boston belong to a homogeneous group that has one set of political goals and that each and every member is opposed to all of their white neighbors, their views, and their political goals.” 

On May 8, 2023, a federal judge temporarily blocked the map and ruled that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their 14th Amendment claim, but are unlikely to succeed on their VRA claims. In the order, the judge stated that “[t]he ball is back in the City Council’s court” to redraw the map. 

On May 26, Mayor Michelle Wu (D) signed a new Boston City Council map. On Oct. 19, 2023, the case was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement agreement.

Case Documents

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