377 U.S. 678 (1964), 69, Davis v. Mann

Docket NºNo. 69
Citation377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609
Party NameDavis v. Mann
Case DateJune 15, 1964
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 678

377 U.S. 678 (1964)

84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609

Davis

v.

Mann

No. 69

United States Supreme Court

June 15, 1964

Argued November 14, 18, 1963

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

Syllabus

Complainants, certain Virginia voters, brought this action against appellants, various officials having state election duties, challenging the statutory provisions apportioning seats in the Virginia Legislature as violative of the Equal Protection Clause. While the Virginia Constitution provides for decennial reapportionment the establishment of districts rests in the discretion of the legislature, which has been guided chiefly by population, but which has also considered factors such as compactness and contiguity of territory, geographic features, and community of interests. Under the existing apportionment, the State is divided into 36 senatorial districts, with 40 senators, and 70 House districts with 100 delegates. The maximum population variance ratios between the most populous and least populous senatorial and House districts are, respectively, 2.65 to 1 and 4.36 to 1; and, under the 1962 apportionment, about 41.1% of the State's total population reside in districts electing a majority of the Senate, and about 40.5% in districts electing a majority of the House. No adequate political remedy for legislative reapportionment exists in Virginia, and no initiative procedure is provided for. Appellants before the three-judge court which was convened to decide the case showed the number of military or military-related personnel in the areas where complainants resided, disparities from population-based representation among the various States in the Federal Electoral College, and results of a comparative study showing Virginia as eighth among the States in population-based legislative representativeness. The District Court entered an interlocutory order holding Virginia's legislative apportionment unconstitutional, and refused to abstain pending the obtaining of the state courts' views on the validity of the apportionment. The Court refused to defer deciding the case until after the January, 1964, regular session of the legislature, and retained jurisdiction for the entry of necessary orders.

Held:

1. Neither of the houses of the Virginia General Assembly is apportioned sufficiently on a population basis to be constitutionally sustainable. P. 690.

Page 679

2. Where a federal court's jurisdiction is properly invoked and the relevant state constitutional and statutory provisions are plain and unambiguous, abstention is not necessary. P. 690.

3. The Equal Protection Clause applies to failure to meet federal constitutional requirements whether the legislature periodically reapportions or fails to act. P. 691.

4. The fact that large numbers of military or military-related personnel reside in the same areas as appellees cannot justify underrepresentation of those areas, because the nature of their employment alone provides no proper basis for discrimination; there was no showing that the legislature took this factor into account in making the apportionment, and, even if it had, the maximum population variance ratios would have remained impermissible. Pp. 691-692.

5. The apportionment was not sustainable, either factually or legally, as involving an attempt to balance urban and rural power in the legislature. P. 692.

6. Analogy to deviations from population in the Federal Electoral College provides no constitutional basis for sustaining a state apportionment scheme under the Equal Protection Clause. P. 692.

7. It would be inappropriate for this Court to consider the remedies for malapportionment of the legislature, since the next election of Virginia legislators does not occur until 1965, the legislature has ample time to effect a valid reapportionment, and the District Court has retained jurisdiction to grant relief under equitable principles if necessary to ensure that no further elections are held under an unconstitutional scheme. Pp. 692-693.

213 F.Supp. 577 affirmed and remanded.

Page 680

WARREN, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Presented for decision in this case is the validity, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, of the apportionment of seats in the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I

Plaintiffs below, residents, taxpayers and qualified voters of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, filed a complaint on April 9, 1962, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in their own behalf and on behalf of all voters in Virginia similarly situated, challenging the apportionment of the Virginia General Assembly. Defendants, sued in their representative capacities, were various officials charged with duties in connection with state elections. Plaintiffs claimed rights under provisions of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 and asserted jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3).

The complaint alleged that the present statutory provisions apportioning seats in the Virginia Legislature, as amended in 1962, result in invidious discrimination

Page 681

against plaintiffs and "all other voters of the State Senatorial and House districts" in which they reside, since voters in Arlington and Fairfax Counties are given substantially less representation than voters living in other parts of the State. Plaintiffs asserted that the discrimination was violative of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Virginia Constitution, and contended that the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution, and of the Virginia Constitution, could be met only by a redistribution of legislative representation among the counties and independent cities of the State "substantially in proportion to their respective populations." Plaintiffs asserted that they

possess an inherent right to vote for members of the General Assembly [84 S.Ct. 1443] . . . and to cast votes that are equally effective with the votes of every other citizen

of Virginia, and that this right was being diluted and effectively denied by the discriminatory apportionment of seats in both houses of the Virginia Legislature under the statutory provisions attacked as being unconstitutional. Plaintiffs contended that the alleged inequalities and distortions in the allocation of legislative seats prevented the Virginia Legislature from "being a body representative of the people of the Commonwealth," and resulted in a minority of the people of Virginia controlling the General Assembly.

The complaint requested the convening of a three-judge District Court. With respect to relief, plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the statutory scheme of legislative apportionment in Virginia, prior as well as subsequent to the 1962 amendments, contravenes the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and is thus unconstitutional, and void. Plaintiffs also requested the issuance of a prohibitory injunction restraining defendants from performing their official duties relating to the election of members of the General Assembly pursuant to the present statutory provisions. Plaintiffs

Page 682

further sought a mandatory injunction requiring defendants to conduct the next primary and general elections for legislators on an at-large basis throughout the State.

A three-judge District Court was promptly convened. Residents and voters of the City of Norfolk were permitted to intervene as plaintiffs against the original defendants and against certain additional defendants, election officials in Norfolk. On June 20, 1962, all of the plaintiffs obtained leave to amend the complaint by adding an additional prayer for relief which requested that, unless the General Assembly "promptly and fairly" reapportioned the legislative districts, the Court should reapportion the districts by its own order so as to accord the parties and others similarly situated "fair and proportionate" representation in the Virginia Legislature.

Evidence presented to the District Court by plaintiffs included basic figures showing the populations of the various districts from which senators and delegates are elected, and the number of seats assigned to each. From that data, various statistical comparisons were derived. Since the 1962 reapportionment measures were enacted only two days before the complaint was filed, and made only small changes in the statutory provisions relating to legislative apportionment, which had been last amended in 1958, the evidence submitted covered both the present and the last previous apportionments. Defendants introduced various exhibits showing the numbers of military and military-related personnel in the City of Norfolk and in Arlington and Fairfax Counties, disparities from population-based representation among the various States in the Federal Electoral College, and results of a comparative study of state legislative apportionment which show Virginia as ranking eighth among the States in population-based legislative representativeness, as reapportioned in 1962.

Page 683

On November 28, 1962, the District Court, with one judge dissenting, sustained plaintiffs' claim and entered an interlocutory order holding the apportionment of the Virginia Legislature violative of the Federal Constitution. 213 F.Supp. 577. The Court refused to dismiss the case or stay its action on the ground, asserted by defendants, that plaintiffs should be required first to procure the views of the state courts on the validity of the apportionment scheme. Instead, it held that, since neither the 1962 legislation nor the relevant state constitutional provisions were ambiguous, no question of state law necessitating abstention by the Federal District Court was presented. In applying the Equal Protection Clause to the Virginia apportionment...

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196 practice notes
  • 400 P.2d 25 (Kan. 1965), 44026, Harris v. Anderson
    • United States
    • Kansas Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 1, 1965
    ...1418, 12 L.Ed.2d 568; Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656, 84 S.Ct. 1429, 12 L.Ed.2d 295; Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609; Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695, 84 S.Ct. 1449, 12 L.Ed.2d 620; Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly of State ......
  • Defying one-person, one-vote: prisoners and the "usual residence" principle.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 152 Nbr. 1, November 2003
    • November 1, 2003
    ...v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colo., 377 U.S. 713 (1964) (Colorado); Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695 (1964) (Delaware); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678 (1964) (Virginia); Md. Comm. for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656 (1964) (Maryland); WMCA, Inc. v. Lomezo, 377 U.S. 633 (1964) (New......
  • Congress, the solicitor general, and the path of reapportionment litigation.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 62 Nbr. 4, June 2012
    • June 22, 2012
    ...WMCA, Inc. v. Lomenzo, 377 U.S. 633 (1964); Maryland Commission for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656 (1964); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678 (1964); Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695 (1964); Lucas v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colo., 377 U.S. 713 (1964); agree; citation. Harman v. For......
  • Redistricting and the territorial community.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 160 Nbr. 5, April 2012
    • April 1, 2012
    ...Texas congressional plan that "resulted from a bona fide attempt ... to respect county boundaries"); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 686, 691-93 (1964) (invalidating Virginia congressional plan that followed "tradition of respecting the integrity of the boundaries of cities and ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
189 cases
  • 400 P.2d 25 (Kan. 1965), 44026, Harris v. Anderson
    • United States
    • Kansas Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 1, 1965
    ...1418, 12 L.Ed.2d 568; Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656, 84 S.Ct. 1429, 12 L.Ed.2d 295; Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609; Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695, 84 S.Ct. 1449, 12 L.Ed.2d 620; Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly of State ......
  • 421 F.Supp. 492 (D.R.I. 1976), Civ. A. 75-0036, Melanson v. Rantoul
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Rhode Island
    • October 19, 1976
    ...plaintiff, the Governor's Motion to Dismiss must be and hereby is, granted. Mann v. Davis, 213 F.Supp. 577, 579 (E.D.VA. 1962), aff'd 377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609 Plaintiff Lamb stands in a somewhat different position, and advances a more substantial theory on behalf of her a......
  • 239 F.Supp. 757 (D.D.C. 1965), Civ. A. 1355-63, Lampkin v. Connor
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts District of Columbia
    • March 29, 1965
    ...12 L.Ed.2d 568 (1964); Maryland Comm. for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656, 84 S.Ct. 1429, 12 L.Ed.2d 595 (1964); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609 (1964); Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695, 84 S.Ct. 1449, 12 L.Ed.2d 620 (1964); Lucas v. 44th General Assembly......
  • 405 U.S. 34 (1972), 70-91, Parisi v. Davidson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • February 23, 1972
    ...Page 42 processing of the court-martial charge. Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, 377 U.S. 218, 229; Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 690-691; Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly of Colorado, 377 U.S. 713, 716-717. For the reasons that follow, we are not persuaded that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Defying one-person, one-vote: prisoners and the "usual residence" principle.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 152 Nbr. 1, November 2003
    • November 1, 2003
    ...v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colo., 377 U.S. 713 (1964) (Colorado); Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695 (1964) (Delaware); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678 (1964) (Virginia); Md. Comm. for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656 (1964) (Maryland); WMCA, Inc. v. Lomezo, 377 U.S. 633 (1964) (New......
  • Congress, the solicitor general, and the path of reapportionment litigation.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 62 Nbr. 4, June 2012
    • June 22, 2012
    ...WMCA, Inc. v. Lomenzo, 377 U.S. 633 (1964); Maryland Commission for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656 (1964); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678 (1964); Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695 (1964); Lucas v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colo., 377 U.S. 713 (1964); agree; citation. Harman v. For......
  • Redistricting and the territorial community.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 160 Nbr. 5, April 2012
    • April 1, 2012
    ...Texas congressional plan that "resulted from a bona fide attempt ... to respect county boundaries"); Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 686, 691-93 (1964) (invalidating Virginia congressional plan that followed "tradition of respecting the integrity of the boundaries of cities and ......