398 U.S. 922 (1970), 1776, Tijerina v. Henry

Docket NºNo. 1776, Misc.
Citation398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86
Party NameReies Lopez TIJERINA et al. v. Virgil HENRY et al.
Case DateMay 25, 1970
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 922

398 U.S. 922 (1970)

90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86

Reies Lopez TIJERINA et al.

v.

Virgil HENRY et al.

No. 1776, Misc.

United States Supreme Court.

May 25, 1970

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New mexico.

Facts and opinion, D.C., 48 F.R.D. 274.

OPINION

The appeal is dismissed.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

Appellants brought this suit as a class action, claiming to represent a class 'designated as Indo-Hispano, also called Mexican, Mexican-American and Spanish American, [which is] generally characterized by Spanish surnames, mixed Indian and Spanish ancestry and * * * Spanish as a primary or maternal language.' 1 The District Court dismissed the complaint as a class action, holding that appellants' definition of the class was 'too vague to be meaningful.' 2

[90 S.Ct. 1720]

Page 923

Class actions are controlled by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. That Rule does not in terms define a 'class', other than by stating that the class must be 'so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable' and that there must be 'questions of law or fact common to the class.' Certainly those two prerequisites were satisfied in this case. In addition, however, federal courts have required that '[t]he members of a class must be capable of definite identification as being either in or out of it.' Chaffee v. Johnson, D.C., 229 F.Supp. 445, 448. See also Dolgow v. Anderson, D.C., 43 F.R.D. 472, 491; Weisman v. MCA Inc., D.C., 45 F.R.D. 258, 261; 3 B J. Moore, Federal Practice ¶23.04 (1969).

In my view, the District Court clearly erred in holding that the members of the class were not sufficiently identifiable. The court relied, for example, on the fact that 'the complaint is silent as to whether people with some Spanish or Mexican and Indian ancestors, as well as ancestors who are of some other extraction, i. e., French, English, Danish, etc., would be included as members of the class. These considerations make this characteristic so vague as to be meaningless.' One thing is not vague or uncertain, however, and that is that those who discriminate

Page 924

against members of this and other minority groups have little difficulty in isolating the objects of their discrimination. And it is precisely this discrimination, as alleged by appellants in their complaint, that presents the 'questions of law or fact common to the class.'

This Court responded to a similar contention regarding lack of an identifiable class in a different context in Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475, 74 S.Ct. 667, 98 L.Ed. 866. There, the petitioner claimed that persons of Mexican descent were systematically excluded from jury service in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court held that 'persons of Mexican descent' constituted a distinct class to which the equal protection guarantee was applicable. 'Throughout our history differences in race and color have defined easily identifiable groups which have at times required the aid of the courts in securing equal treatment under the laws.' Id., at 478, 74 S.Ct. at 670. And the Court held that one method by which the petitioner could satisfy his burden of proving that persons of Mexican descent constituted a separate class was by showing the attitude of the community. Id., at 479, 74 S.Ct. at 671.

What the Court said in Hernandez is, I think, pertinent to the question of establishing the existence of a proper class for a class action under Rule 23. There can be no dispute that in many [90 S.Ct. 1721] parts of the Southwestern United States persons of Indian and Mexican or Spanish descent are, as a class, subject to various forms of discrimination. Appellants, as members of that class, brought this action to prevent the continuance of alleged discriminatory actions taken against the class. I do not see how it can be seriously contended that this suit is not a...

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10 practice notes
  • 98 F.R.D. 286 (E.D.Pa. 1983), C. A. 77-4424, Alvarez v. City of Philadelphia
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • May 10, 1983
    ...24 (E.D.Texas 1971), aff'd, 466 F.2d 518 (5th Cir.1972); and Lopez Tijerina v. Henry, 48 F.R.D. 274 (D.N.M.1969), appeal dismissed, 398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86 (1970) (Douglas, J., B. Filing Limitations i) Title VII Section 706(e) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e), provide......
  • 95 F.R.D. 109 (E.D.Pa. 1982), C. A. 79-375, Ulloa v. City of Philadelphia
    • United States
    • United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • July 30, 1982
    ...United States v. Texas, 342 F.Supp. 24 (E.D.Tex.1971); and Lopez Tijerina v. Henry, 48 F.R.D. 274 (D.N.M.1969), appeal dismissed, 398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86 (1970) (Douglas, J., FILING LIMITATIONS A. Title VII Section 706(e) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. s 2000e-5(e), provides tha......
  • 482 F.2d 1226 (8th Cir. 1973), 73-1135, United States v. Brown
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 8, 1973
    ...to set it up and establish it." See also United States v. Young, 422 F. 2d 302, 306 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 914, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 78 (1970). Page 1230 Moreover, under 21 U.S.C. § 885(a)(1), ". . . the burden of going forward with the evidence with respect to an......
  • 457 F.2d 1402 (5th Cir. 1972), 71-2323, United States v. Flagler County School Dist.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 29, 1972
    ...of what is a Negro and therefore, he contends, the order is vague and uncertain. Justice Douglas's statement in Tijerina v. Henry, 1970, 398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86, sufficiently answers that argument-"One thing is not vague or uncertain, however, and that is that those ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • 482 F.2d 1226 (8th Cir. 1973), 73-1135, United States v. Brown
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 8, 1973
    ...to set it up and establish it." See also United States v. Young, 422 F. 2d 302, 306 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 914, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 78 (1970). Page 1230 Moreover, under 21 U.S.C. § 885(a)(1), ". . . the burden of going forward with the evidence with respect to an......
  • 457 F.2d 1402 (5th Cir. 1972), 71-2323, United States v. Flagler County School Dist.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 29, 1972
    ...of what is a Negro and therefore, he contends, the order is vague and uncertain. Justice Douglas's statement in Tijerina v. Henry, 1970, 398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86, sufficiently answers that argument-"One thing is not vague or uncertain, however, and that is that those ......
  • 378 F.Supp. 605 (N.D.Cal. 1974), C-72-1689, Quadra v. Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • May 16, 1974
    ...group' is closely related to whether the class is appropriate under Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, see Tijerina v. Henry, 398 U.S. 922, 924-925, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 1720-21, 26 L.Ed.2d 86, 87 (Douglas, J., dissenting from dismissal of appeal)). See also footnote 23, [20] The parties ......
  • 748 F.2d 125 (3rd Cir. 1984), 83-3201, Government of Virgin Islands v. Zepp
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 13, 1984
    ...an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance." Cuyler v. Sullivan, supra, 446 U.S., at 350, 348, 90 S.Ct. at 1719, 1718 (footnote Strickland, 104 S.Ct. at 2067 (emphasis added). The Strickland Court thereby reaffirmed the previous holding of its decision i......
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