Hall v. Beals, No. 39

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBrennan; PER CURIAM; BRENNAN; MARSHALL
Citation396 U.S. 45,90 S.Ct. 200,24 L.Ed.2d 214
PartiesRichard HALL et ux., Appellants, v. Harriet BEALS, Clerk and Recorder of El Paso County, et al
Docket NumberNo. 39
Decision Date14 October 1969

396 U.S. 45
90 S.Ct. 200
24 L.Ed.2d 214
Richard HALL et ux., Appellants,

v.

Harriet BEALS, Clerk and Recorder of El Paso County, et al.

No. 39.
Argued Oct. 14, 1969.

Action to enjoin enforcement and operation of Colorado laws imposing residency requirements for voting in presidential election. The Three-Judge District Court, 292 F.Supp. 610, dismissed the complaint and direct appeal was taken. The Supreme Court held that plaintiffs who were precluded from voting in 1968 presidential election by Colorado statutes imposing six-month residency requirement but who could have voted in 1968 election under statute as amended subsequent to the election were no longer part of class of disenfranchised voters and could not represent class, and action to enjoin enforcement of statute would be dismissed as moot.

Judgment of District Court vacated and case remanded with directions.

Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall dissented.

Richard Hall, for appellants, pro se.

Bernard R. Baker, Colorado Springs, for appellees.

Page 46

PER CURIAM.

The appellants moved from California to Colorado in June 1968. They sought to register to vote in the ensuing November presidential election, but were refused permission because they would not on election day have satisfied the six-month residency requirement that Colorado then imposed for eligibility to vote in such an election.1 The appellants then commenced the present

Page 47

class action against the appellees, electoral officials of El Paso County, Colorado. Their complaint challenged the six-month residency requirement as a violation of the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Privilege and Immunities Clauses of the Constitution. For relief they sought (1) a writ of mandamus compelling the appellees to register them for the upcoming presidential election; (2) an injunction restraining the enforcement and operation of the Colorado residency laws insofar as they applied to the presidential election; and (3) a direction that the appellees register the appellants and allow them to vote 'on a conditional basis, so that should either party choose to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States and such appeal should run past the time of the National Election on November 5, 1968, * * * the relief sought by [the appellants will] not become moot.'2

On October 30 the three-judge District Court entered judgment for the appellees and dismissed the complaint, holding that the six-month requirement was not unconstitutional. Hall v. Beals, 292 F.Supp. 610 (D.C.Colo.).3 As a result the appellants did not vote in the 1968 presidential election. They took a direct appeal to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1253, and we noted

Page 48

probable jurisdiction, 394 U.S. 1011, 89 S.Ct. 1624, 23 L.Ed.2d 38. Thereafter the Colorado Legislature reduced the residency requirement for a presidential election from six months to two months.

The 1968 election is history, and it is now impossible to grant the appellants the relief they sought in the District Court. Further, the appellants have now satisfied the six-month residency requirement of which they complained. But apart from these considerations, the recent amendatory action of the Colorado Legislature has surely operated to render this case moot. We review the judgment below in light of the Colorado statute as it now stands, not as it once did. Thorpe v. Housing Authority, 393 U.S. 268, 281-282, 89 S.Ct. 518, 526, 21 L.Ed.2d 474; United States v. Alabama, 362 U.S. 602, 604, 80 S.Ct. 924, 926, 4 L.Ed.2d 982; Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 60, 61 S.Ct. 399, 400, 85 L.Ed. 581; Carpenter v. Wabash R. Co., 309 U.S. 23, 26-27, 60 S.Ct. 416, 417-418, 84 L.Ed. 558; United States v. Schooner Peggy, 1 Cranch 103, 110, 2 L.Ed. 49. And under the statute as currently written, the appellants could have voted in the 1968 presidential election. The case has therefore lost its character as a present, live controversy of the kind that must exist if we are to avoid advisory opinions on abstract propositions of law. Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 110, 89 S.Ct. 956, 960, 22 L.Ed. 113; Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S.Ct. 691, 703, 7 L.Ed.2d 663; Mills v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653, 16 S.Ct. 132, 133, 40 L.Ed. 293.

The appellants object now to the two-month residency requirement as vigorously as they did to the six-month rule in effect when they brought suit. They say that such statutes, in Colorado and elsewhere, continue to have an adverse effect upon millions of voters throughout the Nation. But the appellants' opposition to residency requirements in general cannot alter the fact that so far as they are concerned nothing in the Colorado legislative scheme as now written adversely affects either their present interests, or their interests at the time this litigation was commenced. Nor does the result differ

Page 49

because the appellants denominated their suit a class action on behalf of disenfranchised voters. The appellants 'cannot represent a class of [which] they are not a part,' Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 32-33, 82 S.Ct. 549, 550, 7 L.Ed.2d 512—that is the class of voters disqualified in Colorado by virtue of the new two-month requirement, a class of which the appellants have never been members.

Nothing in Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814, 89 S.Ct. 1493, 23 L.Ed.2d 1, is to the contrary. There we invalidated an Illinois statute requiring that independent candidates for presidential elector obtain signatures on their nominating petitions from voters distributed through the State. We noted that even though the 1968 election was over, 'the burden * * * placed on the nomination of nominees for statewide offices remains and controls future elections, as long as Illinois maintains her present system as she has done since 1935.' 394 U.S., at 816, 89 S.Ct. at 1494. The problem before us was "capable of repetition, yet evading review," not only because the same restriction on Moore's candidacy that had adversely affected him in 1968 could do so again in 1972, but because Illinois, far from having altered its statutory scheme for the future benefit of those situated similarly to Moore, had adhered for over 30 years to the same electoral policy with no indication of change.

Here, by contrast, the appellants will face disenfranchisement in Colorado in 1972 only in the unlikely event that they first move out of the State and then reestablish residence there within two months of the presidential election in that year. Or they may take up residence in some other State, and in 1972 face disqualification under that State's law. But such speculative contingencies afford no basis for our passing on the substantive issues the appellants would have us decide with respect

Page 50

to the now-amended law of Colorado. Golden v. Zwickler, supra.

The judgment of the District Court is vacated and the case is remanded with directions to dismiss the cause as moot.

It is so ordered.

Judgment vacated and case remanded with directions.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.

I dissent from the direction to dismiss this case as moot. Moore v. Ogilvie, 394 U.S. 814, 89 S.Ct. 1493, 23 L.Ed.2d 1 (1969), involved a challenge to the constitutionality of a statute which had been invoked to deny the appellants a place on the 1968 ballot. We were not persuaded in that case by the argument that the appeal should be dismissed since the 1968 election had been held and there was no possibility of granting any relief to appellants. Even though appellants did not allege they would seek a place on the ballot at future elections, we held that the constitutional question was one 'capable of repetition, yet evading review,' Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498, 515, 31 S.Ct. 279, 283, 55 L.Ed. 310 (1911), and, therefore, that mootness would not prevent our decision of its merits. In my view the present case is an even stronger one for application of that principle. At stake here is the fundamental right to vote—the right 'preservative of other basic civil and political rights,' Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 562, 84 S.Ct. 1362, 1381, 12 L.Ed.2d 506 (1964); see also Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 670, 86 S.Ct. 1079, 1083, 16 L.Ed.2d 169 (1966), and the constitutional challenge of the amended Colorado statute is peculiarly evasive of review. This is because ordinarily a person's standing to make that challenge would not mature unless he had become a Colorado resident within two months prior to a presidential election. Barring resort to extraordinary expedients, that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
478 practice notes
  • State of New York v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 84-0853.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 26 Julio 1985
    ...jurisdiction of United States courts, stating in part that the judicial power shall extend only to cases and controversies. Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214 (1969). This constitutional requirement has been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to mean that a......
  • Castro v. State of California
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 24 Marzo 1970
    ...equal protection to those excluded who were equally interested in or affected by the election results. See also Hall v. Beals (1969) 396 U.S. 45, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214, which involved a challenge to state durational residency requirements in presidential elections. The majority dismi......
  • Idaho Rivers United v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, CASE NO. C14-1800JLR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • 9 Febrero 2016
    ...opinions on abstract propositions of law." West v. Sec'y of Dep't of Transp., 206 F.3d 920, 924 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969)); see also City of Erie v. Pap's A.M., 529 U.S. 277, 287 (2000) (stating that unless the plaintiff can obtain effective relief, any ......
  • Sequoia ForestKeeper v. Tidwell, Case No. CV F 11–679 LJO DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 19 Marzo 2012
    ...opinions on abstract propositions of law.’ ” Cantrell v. City of Long Beach, 241 F.3d 674, 678 (9th Cir.2001) (quoting Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214 (1969)). “This means that ... the plaintiff ‘must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury tracea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
481 cases
  • State of New York v. Thomas, Civ. A. No. 84-0853.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 26 Julio 1985
    ...jurisdiction of United States courts, stating in part that the judicial power shall extend only to cases and controversies. Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214 (1969). This constitutional requirement has been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to mean that a......
  • Castro v. State of California
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 24 Marzo 1970
    ...equal protection to those excluded who were equally interested in or affected by the election results. See also Hall v. Beals (1969) 396 U.S. 45, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214, which involved a challenge to state durational residency requirements in presidential elections. The majority dismi......
  • Idaho Rivers United v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, CASE NO. C14-1800JLR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • 9 Febrero 2016
    ...opinions on abstract propositions of law." West v. Sec'y of Dep't of Transp., 206 F.3d 920, 924 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969)); see also City of Erie v. Pap's A.M., 529 U.S. 277, 287 (2000) (stating that unless the plaintiff can obtain effective relief, any ......
  • Sequoia ForestKeeper v. Tidwell, Case No. CV F 11–679 LJO DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 19 Marzo 2012
    ...opinions on abstract propositions of law.’ ” Cantrell v. City of Long Beach, 241 F.3d 674, 678 (9th Cir.2001) (quoting Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48, 90 S.Ct. 200, 24 L.Ed.2d 214 (1969)). “This means that ... the plaintiff ‘must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury tracea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • MANUFACTURING SOVEREIGN STATE MOOTNESS.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 1, October 2021
    • 1 Octubre 2021
    ...curiam). (18.) See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 318 (1974) (per curiam). (19.) U.S. CONST, art. III, [section] 2; see Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969) (per curiam); Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (20.) See Baker, 369 U.S. at 204. (21.) CHEMERINSKY, supra note 15, [section] 2.5.......

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