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Mobile v. Bolden

Retreat From Civil Rights, Vote Dilution, No Guarantee Of Proportional Representation, Discriminatory Effect Vs. Discriminatory Intent


City of Mobile Alabama, et al.


Wiley L. Bolden, et al.

Appellant's Claim

That the city's at-large system of electing commissioners did not discriminate against African American citizens of the city.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Charles S. Rhyne

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

James U. Blacksher

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

22 April 1980


The Supreme Court held that the at-large election system did not discriminate against African American citizens, who could register and vote freely in Mobile.


The case was a strong blow against anti-discriminatory suits. It established that discriminatory effects must be accompanied by intent.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980