ATLANTA (–As a lawsuit challenging the validity of the vote that unseated Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) winds through the courts, plaintiffs are hopeful that an opinion by conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia actually will help their cause.

The suit charges the State of Georgia, the Board of Elections and Registration of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and the Georgia Democratic Party with interfering with the rights of voters on account of race. The suit further declares that Republicans engaged in a “malicious crossover” when they voted in the Democratic primary. The suit seeks to declare the crossover vote of more than 47,000 votes unconstitutional.

Named as defendants are the state’s Governor Sonny Perdue, who assumed office on January 13, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, as well as Linda Latimore and Lynn Ledford, board of election supervisors in the counties of DeKalb and Gwinnett, respectively. The Georgia Democratic Party is included in the suit because it is responsible by state law for conducting democratic primaries.


While first-term Congresswoman Denise Majette would not comment on the lawsuit during a recent April meeting before the Richmond Democratic Party breakfast in Augusta, and later during a town hall meeting of supporters in DeKalb, plaintiffs of an amended suit filed on March 4 said they are hopeful there could be a re-election. Those plaintiffs include Rev. E. Randel Osborne, Linda Dubose, Brenda Lowe Clemons, Dorothy Perry and Wendell Muhammad, the southern regional protocol director for the Nation of Islam.

The controversial August 20, 2002 election saw a massive White republican crossover that practically equaled an all-White state primary. Democrats and Blacks overwhelmingly voted for Ms. McKinney. White voter turnout was calculated at 38 percent with 90 percent of that crossover voting for Ms. Majette. Blacks represented a 32 percent turnout.

Ms. Majette was included in the original suit filed shortly after the election in 2002, but has since been dropped as a defendant.

In her loss, Ms. McKinney joined former Rep. Earl Hilliard of Alabama as the second Black lawmaker targeted by crossover votes and tremendous opposition from pro-Israeli groups in support of their challengers. Mr. Hilliard lost in a special runoff to Artur Davis.

The suit, in part, relies on the opinion of Justice Scalia and the cases outlined by the High Court in California vs. Jones and Gore vs. Bush.

“A single election in which the party nominee is selected by nonparty members could be enough to destroy the party,” Judge Scalia wrote. “As for affording voters greater choice, it is obvious that the net effect of this scheme–indeed, its avowed purpose–is to reduce the scope of choice, by assuring a range of candidates who are all more ‘centrist,’” he concluded.

Judge Scalia’s opinion, filed in the 2000 election debacle, says the ability of the party leadership to endorse a candidate is simply no substitute for the party members’ ability to choose their own nominee or candidate. The Georgia plantiffs believe the High Court’s opinion suggests that this principle was violated in the 2000 presidential court selection of President George Bush over former Vice President Al Gore, as well as the Georgia democratic primary.