Hellar v. Cenarrusa

Citation682 P.2d 524,106 Idaho 571
Decision Date04 January 1984
Docket NumberNo. 15201,15201
PartiesWilliam and Gretchen HELLAR, husband and wife; Bingo Si John; and Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, a Municipal Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants-Cross-Respondents, and Samuel A. Rohrer; Douglas E. Long, Benewah County, a Political Subdivision of the State of Idaho; and Post Falls Highway District, Plaintiffs, v. Pete T. CENARRUSA, Secretary of the State of Idaho; Clifford Chapin, in his official capacity as Bonner County Clerk and on behalf of those similarly situated; and State of Idaho, Defendants-Respondents-Cross-Appellants, and John V. Evans, Governor of the State of Idaho, Appellant-Cross Respondent by Intervention.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Raymond C. Givens and W.W. Nixon, Coeur d'Alene, for plaintiff-appellant-cross-respondent Hellar

Jim Jones, Atty. Gen., Kenneth R. McClure, Deputy Atty. Gen., and Lynn E. Thomas, Sol. Gen., Boise, for defendants-respondents-cross-appellants.

Pat Costello, State of Idaho, Boise, for intervenor Governor.

HUNTLEY, Justice.

This appeal from a district court judgment ordering reapportionment of the Idaho legislature is the sequel to Hellar v. Cenarrusa, 104 Idaho 858, 664 P.2d 765 (1983) (Hellar I). In Hellar I the district court had held that the reapportionment scheme of House Bill 830 of the second session of the Forty-Fifth Legislature (codified as I.C. § 67-202) violated art. 3, § 5 of the Idaho Constitution. That section provides that a "senatorial or representative District, when more than one county shall constitute the same, shall be composed of contiguous counties, and no county shall be divided in creating such districts." (Emphasis added.) It has been the State's position that violation of the Idaho constitutional provision is acceptable where it is compelled by adherence to the one person/one vote mandate of the equal protection clause of the federal Constitution. We agree that if both constitutional provisions could not be accommodated, the federal would take precedence. However, in Hellar I we stated:

"We uphold the district court's declaratory order that Idaho Const. Art. 3, § 5, is not necessarily invalidated by the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution, and the decisions of the United States Supreme Court earlier discussed herein, relating to equality of voting. The evidence produced by the plaintiffs ... presented a prima facie case of invalidity of H.B. 830 ...." 104 Idaho at 861, 664 P.2d at 768.

The defendants were given the opportunity, on remand, to present further evidence on the issue of the constitutionality of H.B. 830. After trial on remand the district court held that H.B. 830 is unconstitutional as violative of Idaho Const. art. 3, § 5. It has continued to be the defendants' position that the legislature cannot draft a reapportionment plan with a constitutionally permissible population deviation except by dividing counties. In the absence of a new legislative plan, the district court adopted a reapportionment plan (identified as Court Plan 14-B) which does not divide counties in contravention of the Idaho constitution and which, the court held, is not in violation of the federal constitution. The question we are faced with on appeal is (1) whether the district court erred in holding H.B. 830 unconstitutional. Plaintiffs, and defendants in their cross-appeal, have raised the additional issues of (2) whether, if it is unconstitutionally constituted, the present legislature may sit "de facto" in 1984, or whether it must be enjoined from sitting pending election of a new legislature; (3) whether defendants were denied a fair and impartial trial; and (4) whether the trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorney fees to plaintiffs below.


It is undisputed that under H.B. 830 twenty-two of the thirty-five legislative districts A population deviation of 9.65% is well within tolerable limits. The respondents argue, however, that the trial court erred in utilizing the "aggregate" method of statistical analysis to arrive at a population deviation of 9.65%, and that the proper statistical method is the "component" method, which yields a population deviation of 41.3%. The determination of the propriety of the aggregate method for determining the population deviation of Plan 14-B was a factual determination supported by competent and substantial evidence. The record reflects that a full day of trial was devoted to this issue, with experts on either side presenting arguments pro and con as to each methodology. The district court was persuaded by the fact that the United States Supreme Court has traditionally applied the aggregate formula in examining the population deviations of challenged reapportionment plans. Boyer v. Gardner, 540 F.Supp. 624 (D.N.H. 1982). When a question involving the relative validity of the two statistical methods was presented to the United States Supreme Court in Mahan v. Howell, 410 U.S. 315, 93 S.Ct. 979, 35 L.Ed.2d 320 (1973), the Court relied on the factual determination of the percentage of deviation made by the district court, stating, "we decline to enter this imbroglio of mathematical manipulation and confine our consideration to the figures actually found by the court and used to support its holding of unconstitutionality." 410 U.S. at 319, n. 6, 93 S.Ct. at 982, n. 6. The Court went on to reverse the district court's holding of unconstitutionality based on the lower court's figure of 16.4% deviation from the ideal district. The suggested other method yielded a figure of 23.6% deviation. We find no error in the district court's finding of a figure of 9.65% population deviation for Plan 14-B in reapportioning Idaho's legislative districts.

join all or a portion of one county with portions of one or more other counties, in contravention of art. 3, § 5. The question is whether such a plan, which impermissibly divides counties, is the only means to achieve equality of representation. We hold that it is not. The reapportionment plan adopted by the district court complies with both state and federal constitutional requirements. It establishes thirty-three districts with forty-two senate seats and eighty-four representative seats. There are six multimember districts and seven floterial districts. None of the districts divides any county in a way prohibited by the Idaho Constitution. The district court, in its factual findings, determined that "the overall range of population deviation between districts of Plan 14-B is 9.65%, with the greatest district population of 23,748 and the lowest of 21,576."

Nevertheless, supposing the proper statistical method yielded a population deviation of 41.3%, given Idaho's state constitutional mandate, and its particular circumstances (geographic, economic, social and others), that percentage would still pass muster under federal constitutional standards in view of the decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

In Brown v. Thompson, 462 U.S. 835, 103 S.Ct. 2690, 77 L.Ed.2d 214 (1983), the United States Supreme Court approved a population deviation as high as 89% as to one county in the state of Wyoming. At issue was whether "Wyoming's policy of preserving county boundaries" justified the unusual deviation as to that county. Of importance to the Court in its decision was the fact that Wyoming's population deviation resulted from "Wyoming's longstanding and legitimate policy of preserving county boundaries." 462 U.S. at ----, 103 S.Ct. at 2698. It did not result from application of discriminatory or arbitrary methods or purposes for reapportioning. Here, as in Brown, the population deviations result from consistent and neutral application of a legitimate policy of preserving county boundaries. Idaho's policy is grounded in its Constitution. The district court found "that Idaho has followed a state policy of preserving county boundaries as manifested by Art. 3, Sec. 5 of the Idaho Constitution." The court set out a detailed list of facts in support of its finding (attached to this opinion as Appendix A). Accordingly,

we reject respondents' argument that a plan cannot be devised which complies with both the state and federal constitutions because we find that Plan 14-B is in fact in harmony with both constitutions. Since there is no justification for the state constitutional violations in the reapportionment scheme of H.B. 830 we affirm the district court's holding that H.B. 830, codified as I.C. § 67-202, is unconstitutional.


The trial court in its 1982 judgment at the close of the first trial (and prior to the Hellar I appeal) ordered:

"In the event that the next regularly convened Idaho State Legislature does not pass a constitutional, legislative redistricting law pursuant to this Opinion, and provide for a Special Election thereunder during 1983, this Court will, after a deadline of April 1, 1983, enter a Court Ordered Legislative Redistricting and Order for a Special Legislative Election." 104 Idaho at 859, 664 P.2d at 766.

The 1983 legislative session adjourned on April 14, 1983, without ever taking up the matter of reapportionment, despite the fact no stay of the trial court order was sought by either party.

By its August 1983 decision (on appeal herein) the trial court: (1) declined to order a special election, deciding to permit the present legislature to sit in 1984, and (2) enjoined the future legislative elections except under Court Plan 14-B. Hellar urges that since the present apportionment of the Idaho legislature has been declared unconstitutional, that its de facto status is terminated and it can no longer sit, and therefore it was error to rescind the special legislative election. The trial court gave the following reasons for declining to order a special election:

"1. A Court of equity should endeavor to avoid disruption of their regular election processes that could make...

To continue reading

Request your trial
72 cases
  • Terrazas v. Ramirez
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • December 17, 1991
    ...Hellar v. Cenarrusa, 106 Idaho 586, 682 P.2d 539, and 106 Idaho 617, 682 P.2d 570 (order), pursuant to jurisdiction retained in 106 Idaho 571, 682 P.2d 524, and 106 Idaho 585, 682 P.2d 538 (1984) (order), after remand in 104 Idaho 858, 664 P.2d 765 (1983); People ex rel. Engle v. Kerner, 33......
  • Boundary Backpackers v. Boundary County, 21287
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1996
    ...standing to benefit from the decision. Miller v. Echo Hawk, 126 Idaho 47, 49, 878 P.2d 746, 748 (1994); Hellar v. Cenarrusa, 106 Idaho 571, 577-78, 682 P.2d 524, 530-31 (1984). The Court's opinion concludes that respondent has not satisfied the first half of the second element, the necessit......
  • Baldwin v. City of Estherville
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • June 14, 2019
    ...315, 569 P.2d 1303, 1315 (1977) (en banc); Sierra Club v. Dep't of Transp. , 202 P.3d 1226, 1270 (Haw. 2009) ; Hellar v. Cenarrusa , 106 Idaho 571, 682 P.2d 524, 531 (1984) ; Bedard v. Town of Alexandria , 159 N.H. 740, 992 A.2d 607, 611 (2010) ; Deras v. Myers , 272 Or. 47, 535 P.2d 541, 5......
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • April 30, 2002
    ...maintained. See In re Reapportionment of Colo. Gen. Assembly, ___ Colo. ___ ___, 45 P.3d 1237, ___ (2002); Hellar v. Cenarrusa, 106 Idaho 571, 574-75, 682 P.2d 524, 527-28 (1984); Fischer v. State Bd. of Elections, 879 S.W.2d 475, 479 (Ky.1994); State ex rel. Lockert v. Crowell, 631 S.W.2d ......
  • 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