Combs v. Matthews

Decision Date31 January 1963
Citation364 S.W.2d 647
PartiesBert T. COMBS, Governor, Appellant, v. Robert F. MATTHEWS, Commissioner of Finance, et al., Appellees.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

Louis Cox, John Hopkins, Frankfort, for appellant.

Hunter B. Whitesell, Dept. of Finance, John B. Browning, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert T. Caldwell, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Frankfort, Jack Q. Heath, Louisville, for appellees.


The General Assembly is meeting now in extraordinary session to consider reapportionment of legislative districts, a circumstance which came into existence after the trial court refused to declare the rights of the litigants, because it concluded that no justiciable controversy was presented by the pleadings which merely alleged that the Governor was 'considering calling into extraordinary session the General Assembly * * * for the sole and express purpose of redistricting the said Commonwealth * * *.' This Court is not authorized to give advisory opinions on hypothetical factual situations (Re Constitutionality of House Bill No. 222, 262 Ky. 437, 90 S.W.2d 692, 103 A.L.R. 1985. See, also, 47 H.L.R. 1022-9.), but it may declare the rights of litigants in advance of action when it concludes that a justiciable controversy is presented, the advance determination of which would eliminate or minimize the risk of wrong action by any of the parties. KRS 418.040, 418.045. Justiciability turns on 'evaluating both the appropriateness of the issues for decision * * * and the hardship of denying judicial relief.' Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 71 S.Ct. 624, 95 L.Ed. 817. We believe the issues presented here should be resolved and that it will serve a useful public purpose to do so in advance of any legislative action of the General Assembly in the present special session. See Borchard, Declaratory Judgment, 2nd Ed., at pages 29 and 58.

The power of the Governor to call the General Assembly into session on extraordinary occasions for the sole purpose of considering stated subjects is conceded (Sec. 80, State Const.), but the Commissioner of Finance contends that the General Assembly may not consider legislative reapportionment or redistricting before 1964, claiming that Section 33 of the State Constitution requires such action at ten year intervals after 1894 when the first General Assembly met under the present Constitution. The Commissioner, consequently, pleads that he cannot legally approve the payroll and expenses of the members of the General Assembly for the present 1963 extraordinary session called, as it is, solely for the purpose of legislative redistricting.

The Governor asserts that 'it is impossible to divide the Commonwealth into one hundred (100) representative districts of approximately equal population and at the same time to restrict each district to no more than two (2) counties,' but the Secretary of State contends that Section 33 of the Constitution limits a representative district to maximum of two counties which would preclude him from accepting the notification and declaration of candidates for the office of representative from districts containing more than two (2) counties. Section 33 of the Constitution says:

'The first General Assembly, after the adoption of this Constitution shall divide the state into thirty-eight Senatorial Districts, and one hundred Representative Districts, as nearly equal in population as may be without dividing any county, except where a county may include more than one district, which district shall constitute the Senatorial and Representative Districts for ten years. Not more than two counties shall be joined together to form a Representative District: Provided, In doing so the principle requiring every district to be as nearly equal in population as...

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18 cases
  • Graham v. Adams
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • December 14, 2023
    ...order to effectuate that equality of representation which the spirt of the whole section so imperatively demands."); Combs v. Matthews, 364 S.W.2d 647, 649 (Ky. 1963) ("[T]he General Assembly may enact a redistricting plan . . . includ[ing] more than two (2) counties in a representative dis......
  • Fischer v. State Bd. of Elections, 93-SC-807-TG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • June 23, 1994
    ...of office is imperative. Id., 100 S.W. at 867. See also Stiglitz v. Schardien, 239 Ky. 799, 40 S.W.2d 315 (1931), and Combs v. Matthews, Ky., 364 S.W.2d 647 (1963). Appellant, pro se, brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief and sought the court's judgment that the Reapport......
  • Jensen v. Kentucky State Bd. of Elections
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • April 24, 1997
    ...equality and county integrity inevitably collide, the requirement of approximate equality of population must control. Combs v. Matthews, Ky., 364 S.W.2d 647 (1963); Stiglitz v. Schardien, 239 Ky. 799, 40 S.W.2d 315 (1931); Ragland v. Anderson, 125 Ky. 141, 100 S.W. 865 (1907). In fact, Kent......
  • Gatewood v. Matthews
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • May 31, 1966 intrusion upon the executive function and an invasion of that shadowy area where no justiciable controversy resides. Combs v. Matthews, Ky., 364 S.W.2d 647 (1963). The action taken by the legislature does not violate the form or the spirit of the Constitution of Kentucky or the Constitut......
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