Chavis v. Whitcomb

Citation307 F. Supp. 1362
Decision Date02 February 1970
Docket NumberNo. IP 69-C-23.,IP 69-C-23.
PartiesPatrick CHAVIS et al., Plaintiffs, v. Edgar D. WHITCOMB, Governor of the State of Indiana, Defendant, and John C. Ruckelshaus et al., Intervening Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)

James W. Beatty, Bamberger & Feibleman, James Manahan, Indianapolis, Ind., for plaintiffs.

Richard C. Johnson, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, Ind., for defendant.

William K. Byrum, Fulmer, Burris & Byrum, Indianapolis, Ind., for intervening defendants.

Before KERNER, Circuit Judge, and STECKLER and NOLAND, District Judges.

Stay Granted February 2, 1970. See 90 S.Ct. 748.



This suit was tried by the three-judge court on June 17 and 18, 1969. After consideration of the legal and factual issues, the Court entered its opinion and a separate order on July 28, 1969.1 The Court found that the multimember districting provisions of the present legislative apportionment statutes of Indiana, Indiana Acts of 1965 (2d Spec.Sess.), ch. 5, sec. 3, and ch. 4, sec. 3 (Ind.Ann.Stat. §§ 34-102, 34-104 (Burns' Supp.1968)), as they relate to Marion County, operate to minimize and cancel out the voting strength of a cognizable racial minority group, which was defined and delinated in the opinion, to the extent that the members of such minority group are deprived of equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. We therefore declared those portions of the legislative apportionment statutes to be unconstitutional and void.

Upon the evidence adduced, it was further determined that: (1) to redistrict Marion County alone, so as to provide districts meeting constitutional standards, would leave constitutionally impermissible population variations between the newly created districts in Marion County and other districts in the state, and (2) independent of the new districts in Marion County, constitutionally impermissible population variations would remain between presently existing districts in the state when compared among themselves. Thus the portions of the statutes relating to Marion County were found to be not severable from the full body of the statutes. We therefore found a redistricting of the entire state as to both houses of the General Assembly to be necessary.

While recognizing the right of the injured plaintiffs to have their constitutional rights vindicated at the earliest practicable time, we also recognized that the federal judiciary functions within a system of federalism which entrusts the responsibility of legislative apportionment and districting primarily to the state legislature. We therefore granted the State until October 1, 1969, to enact statutes redistricting the State and reapportioning the legislative seats in the General Assembly to remedy the constitutionally impermissible districting and apportionment, retaining jurisdiction should the State fail to comply.

On August 20, 1969, defendant Edgar D. Whitcomb, Governor of the State of Indiana, moved this Court to stay proceedings in the action. On August 27, 1969, the intervening defendants, joined by Governor Whitcomb, separately moved to stay proceedings. These motions were denied on September 4, 1969.

On October 15, 1969, judicial notice was taken of the fact that a special session of the Indiana General Assembly had not been called for the purpose of redistricting and reapportioning the General Assembly. Accordingly, the Court concluded that it would proceed to redistrict the State pursuant to its opinion and order of July 28, 1969.

At an informal conference in chambers held on October 15, 1969, counsel for the parties were informed that the Court wished to invite not only the parties to the action but also the State Committees of the majority and minority parties in the Indiana General Assembly, the legislative leaders of said parties, and the members of the Indiana State Election Board, to submit proposed plans for the Court's consideration.

Pursuant to notice a further conference on October 17, 1969, was held in open court for the purpose of announcing minimal guidelines for submission of proposed plans. The date of November 3, 1969, was fixed as the date by which such plans were to be submitted. Persons desiring to submit plans were ordered to file notice of their intent to do so on or before October 24, 1969. The Court announced that 1960 census data would be used as a basis for redistricting; that single-member districts would be preferred to multi-member districts; and and that county and township boundary lines would be crossed in drawing district lines wherever necessary to achieve equality of population in the districts but that the Court would strive to preserve the integrity of county and township lines.

On October 30, 1969, the Court granted persons submitting proposed plans until November 10, 1969, to file objections, if any, to plans proposed by other persons. Defendant Governor Whitcomb on November 3, 1969, moved the Court to modify the order of October 30th by providing that any party to the action might file objections to any of the proposed plans filed by any party or non-party with the Court within ten (10) days after any party received actual notice of the filing of any proposed plan submitted by any party or non-party. The motion was denied on November 4, 1969.

The intervening defendants on November 5, 1969, moved for an extension of time within which to file notice of intent and a proposed plan until November 10, 1969. The motion was granted by an entry of November 6, 1969, and the Court further extended until November 13, 1969, the time within which persons having filed proposed plans could file objections to other plans filed with the Court.

The Court has received the following proposed plans, each preceded by a satisfactory notice of intent:

(1) Plaintiffs' plan for Marion County only;
(2) Plan of Leslie Duvall as Chairman, Senate Legislative Apportionment Committee, for the Indiana Senate only;
(3) Plan of Leslie Duvall as Majority Caucus Chairman, Indiana Senate, for the Indiana Senate only;
(4) Plan of State Senator Robert E. Mahowald, for the Indiana Senate only;
(5) Plan of Frederick T. Bauer, Indiana General Assembly House Minority Leader, and David Rogers, Indiana General Assembly Senate Minority Leader, for both the Indiana House and Senate;
(6) Plan of Richard A. Boehning, Indiana General Assembly House Majority Leader, for the Indiana House only;
(7) Plan of Representative Richard J. Lesniak, for Lake County only; and
(8) Plan of Senator Albert J. LaMere, for Lake County only.

As invited by the Court, several persons filed objections to districting plans submitted by other persons. These objections have been considered and the Court appreciates the diligence of the persons submitting them. The Court having prepared its own plan and the objections having been considered, these objections are considered moot. We reached this conclusion after examination of all plans submitted. With the exception of the plaintiffs' plan and the intervening defendants' plan, all other plans contain such a large deviation between the most populous and least populous districts that they were eliminated from further consideration.

Although the Court has previously indicated that 1960 census statistics should be utilized, several of the objections argue that these statistics are so outdated as to be not credible. The short answer to this objection was given by an earlier three-judge court of this district in considering congressional redistricting: "The Census of 1960 must be tolerated until the next official census in order to maintain relative political stability." Grills v. Branigin, 284 F. Supp. 176 (S.D.Ind.1968).

In districting Marion County, two of the plans submitted received primary consideration, the plan of the plaintiffs, and the plan of the intervening defendants. It is the opinion of the Court that the plaintiffs' plan for districting Marion County more nearly meets the constitutional standards laid down by the Supreme Court as followed by this Court in reaching its opinion of July 28, 1969. We note in the intervening defendants' plan large suburban areas are combined with parts of the Center Township ghetto area. In fact, in seven instances the intervening defendants' plan combines suburban areas with portions of the Center Township inner city area. As we observed in our opinion of July 28, 1969, sophisticated gerrymandering has been soundly condemned. Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339, 81 S.Ct. 125, 5 L.Ed.2d 110 (1960).

Plaintiffs' districts in Marion County closely follow existing city and township boundary lines and are compact and composed of contiguous territory. Additionally, plaintiffs' House districts approximate mathematical equality of population. The greatest deviation is minus .63 of 1% from the ideal House district in Marion County and the average deviation for all fifteen (15) House districts in Marion County is .26 of 1%. Plaintiffs' plan also protects the legally cognizable racial minority group against dilution of its voting strength. This is also true when the respective House districts are combined for senatorial districts.

The legislature having failed to act, this Court now establishes House and Senate districts for the State of Indiana which in the Court's opinion comply with federal constitutional requirements as set forth in decisions of the United States Supreme Court, and as applied in this Court's opinion and order of July 28, 1969.

The Indiana Election Code provides a 30-day period for declarations of candidacy for nomination to a General Assembly seat; this period begins on February 24, 1970. Furthermore, precinct election boundaries will have to be adjusted in January of 1970 by the election...

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7 cases
  • Whitcomb v. Chavis
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 7, 1971
    ...holding for plaintiffs. Chavis v. Whitcomb, 305 F.Supp. 1364 (SD Ind.1969). See also 305 F.Supp. 1359 (1969) (pre-trial orders) and 307 F.Supp. 1362 (1969) (statewide reapportionment plan and implementing order). In sum, it concluded that Marion County's multi-member district must be disest......
  • Apportionment Law Appearing as Senate Joint Resolution 1 E, 1982 Special Apportionment Session; Constitutionality Vel Non, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 26, 1982
    ...senators were elected under an apportionment plan subsequently found by the court to be unconstitutional. See, e.g., Chavis v. Whitcomb, 307 F.Supp. 1362 (S.D.Ind.1969) (because act senators elected under unconstitutional, court must scrutinize balance of term), rev'd on other grounds, 403 ......
  • Dickinson v. Indiana State Election Bd.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • June 27, 1990
    ...the General Assembly should be given the first opportunity to correct the deficiency through reapportionment. See Chavis v. Whitcomb, 307 F.Supp. 1362, 1366-67 (S.D.Ind.1969), rev'd on other grounds, 403 U.S. 124, 91 S.Ct. 1858, 29 L.Ed.2d 363 (1971) (court-ordered reapportionment plan inst......
  • Mader v. Crowell
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
    • March 27, 1980 the contrary, is not supported by precedent. The only case cited by plaintiffs imposing a comparable remedy is Chavis v. Whitcomb, 307 F.Supp. 1362, 1367 (S.D.Ind.1969), revd. on other grounds, 403 U.S. 124, 91 S.Ct. 1858, 29 L.Ed.2d 363 (1970). The Chavis court ordered all Indiana state......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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