McMichael v. Napa County, No. 81-4582

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore WALLACE, KENNEDY, and NELSON; WALLACE; KENNEDY; Wallace
Citation709 F.2d 1268
Docket NumberNo. 81-4582
Decision Date16 June 1983
PartiesPaul McMICHAEL and Joseph A. Nichelini, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. COUNTY OF NAPA and Napa County Board of Supervisors, Defendants-Appellees.

Page 1268

709 F.2d 1268
Paul McMICHAEL and Joseph A. Nichelini, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
COUNTY OF NAPA and Napa County Board of Supervisors,
Defendants-Appellees.
No. 81-4582.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Sept. 15, 1982.
Decided June 16, 1983.

Barbara B. Parrish, C. Blaine Morley, Joseph M. Gughemetti, Morley & Gughemetti, Palo Alto, Cal., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Page 1269

Marc B. Mihaly, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, San Francisco, Cal., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before WALLACE, KENNEDY, and NELSON, Circuit Judges.

WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

Paul McMichael and Joseph A. Nichelini (McMichael) brought suit to challenge the countywide vote on Initiative Measure A, a slow-growth ordinance applying only to the unincorporated area of Napa County, California. This is an appeal from the district judge's order dismissing McMichael's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The district court's jurisdiction was based on 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1331. Our jurisdiction rests on 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. We affirm the dismissal, but for a different reason than that stated by the district court. We find that McMichael lacks standing.

I

McMichael resides in the unincorporated area of Napa County, California. In a countywide election on November 4, 1980, he voted against the enactment of Initiative Measure A, an ordinance limiting the number of new housing units permitted each year in the unincorporated area of the county and providing that fifteen percent of the units allowed be allotted to persons with average or below average income. The County of Napa is made up of an unincorporated area and four incorporated cities: Calistoga, Napa, Yountville, and St. Helena. A certified statement filed by the county clerk and elections supervisor of Napa County indicates that Initiative Measure A passed by a total vote of 54 percent in favor and 46 percent against and that it received a majority of votes in each of the four cities as well as in the unincorporated area. In the unincorporated area the vote was 7,365 (53 percent) in favor and 6,518 (47 percent) opposed.

McMichael brought suit in the district court seeking injunctive and declaratory relief on the ground that passage of Measure A by a countywide vote unconstitutionally diluted the votes of residents of the unincorporated area. McMichael argues that since Measure A applies only to the unincorporated area of Napa County, the vote should have been restricted to residents of the unincorporated area. 1 He contends that the countywide vote on Measure A did not properly recognize the distinct voter interests of residents of the unincorporated area and thereby deprived them of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment.

II

Standing is a threshold question in every case before a federal court. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 517-18, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2214-2215, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975); City of South Lake Tahoe v. California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 625 F.2d 231, 233 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1039, 101 S.Ct. 619, 66 L.Ed.2d 502 (1980). Before the judicial process may be invoked, a plaintiff must "show that the facts alleged present the court with a 'case or controversy' in the constitutional sense and that [he] is a proper plaintiff to raise the issues sought to be litigated." Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 616, 93 S.Ct. 1146, 1148, 35 L.Ed.2d 536 (1973). A party seeking to invoke the court's authority must demonstrate "such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of the issues upon which the court so largely depends ...." Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S.Ct. 691, 703, 7 L.Ed.2d 663 (1962).

The question of whether the plaintiff has standing involves both constitutional and prudential limitations. Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99, 99

Page 1270

S.Ct. 1601, 1607, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1979); Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. at 498, 95 S.Ct. at 2204. The constitutional limitations of article III involve three separate but interrelated components: first, a "distinct and palpable" injury to the plaintiff, id. at 501, 95 S.Ct. at 2206, be it "threatened or actual," Linda R.S. v. Richard D., supra, 410 U.S. at 617, 93 S.Ct. at 1148; second, a "fairly traceable causal connection" between that injury and the challenged conduct of the defendant, Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 98 S.Ct. 2620, 57 L.Ed.2d 595 (1978) (Duke Power); Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 41-42, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 1925-1926, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976) (Simon); and third, a "substantial likelihood" that the relief requested will redress or prevent the injury. Duke Power, supra, 438 U.S. at 75 n. 20, 98 S.Ct. at 2631 n. 20; Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 262, 264, 97 S.Ct. 555, 561, 563, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977); Simon, supra, 426 U.S. at 38, 96 S.Ct. at 1924; Gonzales v. Gorsuch, 688 F.2d 1263, 1267 (9th Cir.1982).

To date, at least three prudential limitations on standing have been recognized: first, the plaintiff must assert his own rights and "cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties," Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. at 499, 95 S.Ct. at 2205; second, "even when the plaintiff has alleged redressable injury sufficient to meet the requirements of Article III," Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 454 U.S. 464, 102 S.Ct. 752, 760, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982) (Valley Forge), the plaintiff's injury must not be "shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of citizens"--if so, it represents a "generalized grievance" not normally appropriate for a judicial resolution, Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. at 499, 95 S.Ct. at 2205; and third, the plaintiff's interest must be "arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question." Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S.Ct. 827, 830, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970); see Valley Forge, supra, 454 U.S. at 475, 102 S.Ct. at 760; Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, supra, 441 U.S. at 100 n. 6, 99 S.Ct. at 1608 n. 6; State of California v. Block, 690 F.2d 753, 776 (9th Cir.1982); City of Davis v. Coleman, 521 F.2d 661, 670, 672 (9th Cir.1975).

The relation between the constitutional and prudential aspects of standing has been described as follows:

Congress may, by legislation, expand standing to the full extent permitted by Art. III, thus permitting litigation by one "who otherwise would be barred by prudential standing rules." In no event, however, may Congress abrogate the Art. III minima: A plaintiff must always have suffered "a distinct and palpable injury to himself," that is likely to be redressed if the requested relief is granted.

Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, supra, 441 U.S. at 100, 99 S.Ct. at 1608 (citations omitted). McMichael has not pointed to any congressional grant of standing intended to abrogate prudential standing rules. We are therefore limited by both constitutional and prudential principles.

III

The County of Napa, in arguing that McMichael lacks standing, defines his injury as the passage of Measure A. Because the initiative measure would have passed even if voting had been restricted to residents of the unincorporated area, the County argues that McMichael has not been harmed as a result of the so-called vote dilution.

McMichael contends that his injury was the denial of his "right to cast an undiluted vote." He argues that when disfranchisement or dilution of the franchise is alleged, it...

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64 practice notes
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...There is thus no "`substantial likelihood' that the relief requested will redress or prevent the injury." McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1269-70 (9th Cir.1983) (citations omitted). Accordingly, plaintiffs lack standing to assert their first amendment B. Religious Harassment Cla......
  • Sierra Club v. US Dept. of Transp., No. C-86-3384 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • January 12, 1987
    ...protect. See Ass'n of Data Processing Serv. Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 90 S.Ct. 827, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970); McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1271-73 (9th Cir.1983). We need not reach this issue now, however, because we conclude that the plaintiffs have little likelihood of succe......
  • Olagues v. Russoniello, Nos. 82-4427
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 26, 1986
    ...to sue for equitable relief. "Standing is a threshold question in every case before a federal court." McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1269 (9th Cir.1983). A party seeking to invoke the court's authority must demonstrate that it personally has suffered some actual or threatened i......
  • Keith v. Volpe, No. 85-6336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 19, 1988
    ...claims, they must satisfy the prudential limitations on standing as well as the Article III minima. See McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1270 (9th Cir.1983). These prudential limitations require that plaintiffs assert their own rights and not those of a third party; that their in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...There is thus no "`substantial likelihood' that the relief requested will redress or prevent the injury." McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1269-70 (9th Cir.1983) (citations omitted). Accordingly, plaintiffs lack standing to assert their first amendment B. Religious Harassment Cla......
  • Sierra Club v. US Dept. of Transp., No. C-86-3384 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • January 12, 1987
    ...protect. See Ass'n of Data Processing Serv. Org. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 90 S.Ct. 827, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970); McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1271-73 (9th Cir.1983). We need not reach this issue now, however, because we conclude that the plaintiffs have little likelihood of succe......
  • Olagues v. Russoniello, Nos. 82-4427
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 26, 1986
    ...to sue for equitable relief. "Standing is a threshold question in every case before a federal court." McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1269 (9th Cir.1983). A party seeking to invoke the court's authority must demonstrate that it personally has suffered some actual or threatened i......
  • Keith v. Volpe, No. 85-6336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 19, 1988
    ...claims, they must satisfy the prudential limitations on standing as well as the Article III minima. See McMichael v. County of Napa, 709 F.2d 1268, 1270 (9th Cir.1983). These prudential limitations require that plaintiffs assert their own rights and not those of a third party; that their in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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