Judge clears path to trial in Eastpointe voting rights case

EASTPOINTE (AP) — The federal government has won a key ruling in a lawsuit that accuses a Detroit suburb of violating the rights of black voters in city council elections.

Eastpointe had sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing in part that a black woman, Monique Owens, was elected to the council in 2017 after the lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department was filed.

But federal Judge Terrence Berg notes there was only one white candidate for two open seats in that election. The judge says the election of a black candidate was a “foregone conclusion.”

Berg’s decision last Wednesday means the case will go to trial or be settled. The government says Eastpointe should elect council members by district, rather than citywide.

Blacks were 30 percent of Eastpointe’s population in the 2010 census.