Connor v. Johnson, Civ. A. No. 3830.

Decision Date21 May 1971
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 3830.
Citation330 F. Supp. 506
PartiesPeggy J. CONNOR et al., Plaintiffs, v. Paul B. JOHNSON et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi

George Peach Taylor, Constance Iona Slaughter, John L. Maxey, II, Danny E. Cupit, R. Jess Brown, Geraldine H. Carnes, Community Legal Service, Jackson, Miss., Peter Marcuse, Waterbury, Conn., Kunstler, Kunstler & Kinoy, William M. Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy, New York City, Smith, Waltzer, Jones & Peebles, Benjamin Smith, Bruce C. Waltzer, New Orleans, La., Morton Stavis, Newark, N. J., Carl Rachlin, Melvin L. Wulf, A. C. L. U., New York City, Alvin Bronstein, Jackson, Miss., for plaintiffs.

A. F. Summer, Atty. Gen., State of Miss., William A. Allain, James Rankin, Edward Noble, Special Asst. Attys. Gen., Martin R. McLendon, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, Miss., for defendants.

Before COLEMAN, Circuit Judge, and COX and RUSSELL, District Judges.



On March 3, 1967, this Court found it inescapably necessary to enter a decree reapportioning the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of Mississippi in accordance with the one manone vote rule, Connor v. Johnson, 265 F. Supp. 492 (S.D., Miss., 1967). On March 27, 1967, the Supreme Court affirmed, 386 U.S. 483, 87 S.Ct. 1174, 18 L.Ed.2d 224, as to the attack upon Congressional redistricting. The judgment as to legislature reapportionment was not appealed.

The Legislature elected in compliance with that reapportionment (in the regular quadrennial elections of 1967) took no action on the subject until it obtained the benefit of the United States Census of 1970, the results of which were announced in December, 1970.

When the Legislature convened in its regular session of January, 1971, it commendably and expeditiously set about the enactment of a reapportionment to be used in the quadrennial elections of 1971, now imminently upon us. The Legislature passed House Bill No. 515, Laws of Mississippi of 1971, approved by the Governor on March 23, 1971.

Upon appropriate petition, the Constitutionality of House Bill No. 515 is now before us pursuant to our retained jurisdiction, 265 F.Supp. at 499. The original plaintiffs, as well as the State, have filed written briefs. We have heard oral argument. The matter must now be decided. The deadline for formal qualification of candidates in the State Democratic primary is June 4, 1971. The first primary election is August 3, 1971.

The duty of the Legislature (and of this Court when compelled to act) in the distribution of legislative seats among the various electoral districts of the State has been clearly delineated by the Supreme Court. Population is the starting point for consideration and is the controlling criterion for judgment in legislative reapportionment controversies. The fundamental principle of representative government in this Country is that there must be equal representation for equal numbers of people, without regard to race, sex, economic status, or place of residence within the State, Reynolds v. Sims, 1964, 377 U.S. 533, 84 S.Ct. 1362, 12 L.Ed.2d 506. It would, of course, be futile for this Court to attempt to ignore the commands of Supreme Court decisions. Indeed, to do so, were we to shrink from the duty imposed upon us, would be to invite the possibility of void elections in 1971, with consequent electoral chaos and unnecessary expense to the public.

Flotorial districts are permissible if they comply with the overriding objective of reapportionment, which is substantial equality of population among the various districts, so that the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen, Reynolds v. Sims, supra; Davis v. Mann, 1964, 377 U.S. 678, 84 S.Ct. 1441, 12 L.Ed.2d 609; Burns v. Richardson, 1966, 384 U.S. 73, 86 S.Ct. 1286, 16 L.Ed.2d 376.

The size of the legislative body is a matter left solely to the discretion of the State. Neither the Legislature nor this Court is authorized to interfere with the size of the State Senate or of the State House of Representatives as ordained by the people in the State Constitution, Reynolds v. Sims, supra, 377 U.S. at 580, 84 S.Ct. 1362.

In our former decision, 265 F.Supp. at 494, we held that the legislative reapportionment of December 1, 1966, was unconstitutional on its face, null, and void. This alluded not to the size of the two houses, as ordained by a vote of the people on the Constitutional Amendment of 1962, but applied only to the distribution of the prescribed number of legislative seats among the 2,178,141 inhabitants of Mississippi as enumerated in the Census of 1960. Section 254 of the Mississippi Constitution, as amended by a vote of the people in 1963, provides that the House shall be composed of 122 members. Section 255 of the Constitution, as so amended, provides that the number of Senators shall be 52.

A reading of House Bill No. 515, of the Laws of Mississippi of 1971, the statute presently under consideration reveals that the Legislature, believing it had the authority to do so because of our prior decision, sought to raise the membership of the Mississippi Senate from 52 to 55 and the membership of the Missisippi House of Representatives from 122 to 125. Under this plan, even with the added seats, we find the following as to Senatorial Districts:

1st District, over-represented by 10.97%.
17th District, under-represented by 11.60%.
22nd District, over-represented by 13.58%.
25th District, under-represented by 10.66%.
29th District, over-represented by 14.26%.
31st District, over-represented by 10.87%.
33rd District, over-represented by 12.11%.
34th District, over-represented by 11.30%.

No rational basis for these variances is recited in either House Bill No. 515 or in available legislative history.

Similar variances appear in the reapportionment of the House of Representatives. We do not encumber this opinion with a list of those variances because the deficiencies as to the Senate alone require the invalidation of the plan.

The immediacy of legislative elections for the entire membership of both the House and the Senate leaves no rational course but to revise the distribution of seats in the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives so as to comply with Constitutional standards. We intend to interfere as little as possible with what the Legislature has done.

We have considered many plans, including those suggested by the plaintiffs, in the hope of attaining, as nearly as possible, equality in population among the several districts, without regard to race, sex, economic status, or place of residence within the State. We have made a good-faith effort to achieve equality in the population of the various electorial districts for the selection of Senators and Representatives in the Legislature of the State of Mississippi. The plan hereinafter set forth, district by district, for the membership of both houses represents our best effort to attain equality, fitting 52 Senators on the one hand and 122 Representatives on the other within the borders of the State, using those legal boundaries for which we have dependable population figures from the United States Census of 1970. As we stated in our former decision, 265 F.Supp. at 494, which the Supreme Court approved, we have cast to one side any purpose of discrimination or favoritism of any kind.

According to the Census of 1970 Mississippi had a population of 2,216,912. Divided by 52, this means that the norm (absolute equivalent) for each Senatorial seat would be 42,633 people. Divided by 122, the norm for each House seat would be 18,171 people. The required objective is to attain this norm as nearly as possible, for each House and Senatorial seat.

Pursuant to this approach, it is hereby determined that the districts for the election of 52 Senators and 122 Representatives in the Mississippi Legislature, until constitutionally changed by the Legislature, shall be, and they are, established as hereinafter set out.

It is to be noted that the Court has made every endeavor to avoid multiple member districts, composed of more than one county. There are, however, only eleven of the eighty-two counties with enough population to elect a Senator. There are only 44 counties, of eighty-two, with enough population to elect a Representative. It has thus been necessary to combine counties to achieve that degree of population equality required by the Constitution.

Except where noted, all elections are to be held district-wide, that is, the entire district shall participate in the nomination and election of its quota of members in both the House and the Senate.

In districts electing more than one member, all candidates shall qualify and be elected by Posts, appropriately numbered to correspond with the number of offices to be filled.

There shall be thirty-three (33) Senatorial Districts, as follows:

                    District    County        Number       Total           Percentage
                                  or            of         Population
                    Number      Counties      Senators     of              of
                                                           District        Population
                                                                           or below
                      1.        DeSoto
                                Marshall         2         84,093          1.375 -
                      2.        Benton
                                Union            1         43,964          3.122 +
                      3.        Alcorn

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • Connor v. Finch Finch v. Connor United States v. Finch 76 935
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 31 Mayo 1977
    ...could find no justification for the continuing substantial population variances among the various legislative districts. Connor v. Johnson, D.C.Miss., 330 F.Supp. 506. The court consequently formulated its own plan to govern the 1971 elections, continuing to rely extensively on multimember ......
  • Connor v. Winter
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi
    • 12 Agosto 1981
    ...for the continuation of substantial population variances, it once again held the legislation unconstitutional. Conner v. Johnson, 330 F.Supp. 506 (S.D.Miss.1971). The district court consequently promulgated its own plan for the 1971 elections, relying extensively on multimember districts, b......
  • Minnesota State Senate v. Beens 8212 1024, 71 8212 1145
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 29 Abril 1972
    ...on the size of state legislative bodies.' Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S., at 581 n. 63, 84 S.Ct., at 1392. See also Connor v. Johnson, 330 F.Supp. 506, 507 (S.D.Miss), order stayed on other grounds, 402 U.S. 690, 91 S.Ct. 1760, 29 L.Ed.2d 268, opinion on remand, 330 F.Supp. 521 (S.D.Miss.1971);......
  • Connor v. Coleman, 78-1013
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 26 Marzo 1979
    ...elections which authorized multimember representation for most house districts and almost half of the senate districts. Connor v. Johnson, 330 F.Supp. 506 (D.C.1971). The court failed to formulate a final plan for the State's three largest counties, instead ordering interim multimember repr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT