Muench v. Paine, No. 139

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtMcFADDEN; McQUADE
Citation463 P.2d 939,93 Idaho 473
Docket NumberNo. 139,C,No. 10552
Decision Date16 January 1970
PartiesErnst G. MUENCH and Lloyd Taylor, Plaintiffs, v. Marlin PAINE, Archie Yamamoto, James Nafsinger, Bruce Bartlett, Leonard D. Wagers, Trustees of School Districtanyon County, Idaho, and Wilma Law, Clerk of the Board of Trustees of School Districtanyon County, Idaho, Defendants.

Page 939

463 P.2d 939
93 Idaho 473
Ernst G. MUENCH and Lloyd Taylor, Plaintiffs,
v.
Marlin PAINE, Archie Yamamoto, James Nafsinger, Bruce Bartlett, Leonard D. Wagers, Trustees of School District No. 139, Canyon County, Idaho, and Wilma Law, Clerk of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 139, Canyon County, Idaho, Defendants.
No. 10552.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
Jan. 16, 1970.

[93 Idaho 474]

Page 940

Weeks & Davis, Nampa, for plaintiffs.

Smith, Miller & Weston, Caldwell, for defendants.

Robert M. Robson, Atty. Gen., and James G. Hargis, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boise, Cecil D. Hobdey, of James, Hobdey & Shaw, Gooding, amicus curiae.

McFADDEN, Chief Justice.

Both Ernst G. Muench and Lloyd Taylor, the plaintiffs in this original proceeding, are residents of School District No. 139 in Canyon County, Idaho. Plaintiff Taylor has children attending school in this district, and plaintiff Muench is a real property taxpayer in the district. They instituted this action seeking a writ of prohibition to prohibit and restrain the defendant trustees of School District No. 139 of Canyon County from selling general obligation school bonds in the amount of $805,000, after issuance of such bonds was approved in a school bond election held on May 27, 1969. An alternative writ of prohibition was issued by this court and hearing was had by this court following the filing of the defendants' return to the plaintiffs' petition.

The facts before this court are undisputed. In April 1969 the defendants as the Board of Trustees of School District No. 139 adopted a resolution calling for a bond election at which the voters would decide whether general obligation bonds in the amount of $805,000 should be issued for the purpose of acquiring school sites and [93 Idaho 475]

Page 941

improving school facilities by building, furnishing and equipping two elementary school buildings in the district. Pursuant to I.C. § 33-404 1 the franchise in this election was limited to qualified electors of the State and residents of the district who are taxpayers (or the spouse of a taxpayer) on real property located in the district. The plaintiffs maintain that a writ of prohibition should issue to prohibit the sale of these bonds, which were approved at the election by a vote of 723 to 297, on the ground that the election was invalid in that I.C. § 33-404 in limiting the franchise to voters in the district who were real property taxpayers is unconstitutional as a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and in violation of Sections 2, 3 and 20 of Article 1 of the Constitution of this state. 2 In support of their position, plaintiffs cite Kramer v. Union Free School Dist., 395 U.S. 621, 89 S.Ct. 1886, 23 L.Ed.2d 583 (1969) and Cipriano v. City of Houma, 395 U.S. 701, 89 S.Ct. 1897, 23 L.Ed.2d 647 (1969).

At the outset a question is presented whether a petition for a writ of prohibition is the proper procedure for bringing this case before the court. I.C. § 7-401 provides that a writ of prohibition can issue only to arrest 'the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board or person, when such proceedings are without or in excess of the jurisdiction of such tribunal, corporation, board or person.' Moreover, such writ is not available unless there is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Clearwater Timber Protective Ass'n v. District Court, 84 Idaho 129, 369 P.2d 571 (1962). In a proper case this court has the authority to issue a writ of prohibition. Art. 5, § 9, Idaho Const.; I.C. § 1-203.

In Baker v. Gooding County, 25 Idaho 506, 138 P. 342 (1914), this court [93 Idaho 476]

Page 942

held that a writ of prohibition would lie to restrain county commissioners from selling bonds when it appeared that the resolution for submitting the bond issue to the electorate had not been properly passed. Under such circumstances, this court held, the commissioners were acting in excess of their jurisdiction. The issue before the court is of such great public interest affecting the validity of existing bond issues and the rights of the several school districts of this state (as well as other taxing authorities of this state) that a decision on the issues is deemed essential in the interests of the welfare of this state. See Rich v. Williams, 81 Idaho 311, 341 P.2d 432 (1959); White v. Young, 88 Idaho 188, 397 P.2d 756 (1964). It is the conclusion of the court that the petition for a writ of prohibition is the proper procedure for challenging the validity of the particular bond election in question.

The defendants, by their return to the petition, allege that the election involved in this action was held May 27, 1969 and that the trustees of the district canvassed the results of the election the same day. They further allege that the petition herein was filed on September 14, 1969, and then contend that by reason of the provisions of S.L.1969, Ch. 208, now I.C. § 34-2001A, that the instant action was not timely brought. Some doubt is entertained by the court as to the applicability of that act to the instant case. In particular there is a question as to whether this original proceeding challenging the constitutionality of I.C. § 33-404 is within the scope of I.C. § 34-2001A. See Kramer v. Union Free School Dist., supra, and Cipriano v. City of Houma, supra. However, the defendants expressed to the court in argument that they waive this forty day time limitation as a defense to this action.

This court is aware of the crises facing so many of the school districts in this state as expressed by counsel and by the amicus curiae in their respective briefs. The school districts are under constant pressure for additional facilities by way of new buildings, new classrooms and the necessary equipment for such new construction, the need for which is created by the continual increase in the number of children reaching school age. The school districts in the state can meet the demands for such new construction only by raising the funds from the sale of bonds which have been authorized at an election following regular proceedings to present the issue. We also recognize the fact that at present the bond issues of this state that have been approved are not saleable in the open market. Because of these urgent problems facing the school districts of the state, and because of the great public interest in the result of this litigation 3 it is the conclusion of this court that the waiver by the defendants of the defense alleged in their answer that the cause is barred by the time provisions of I.C. § 34-2001A, will be accepted and redetermination of such issues reserved for a future case. Branson v. Firemen's Retirement Fund, 79 Idaho 167, 312 P.2d 1037 (1957); Rivera v. Johnston, 71 Idaho 70, 225 P.2d 858 (1951); Frisbie v. Sunshine Mining Co., 93 Idaho 169, 457 P.2d 408 (1969).

We come then to the central issue of whether the statutes of this state, and in particular I.C. § 33-404 (supra, note 1), restricting the franchise in school bond elections to real property taxpayers and their spouses is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs do not challenge that portion of I.C. § 33-404 which requires that a voter be an elector under the provisions of Idaho Const. Art. 6, § 2 and a resident of a school district. They do, however, challenge that portion of the statute requiring that a voter in a 'school election' be the parent or guardian of a child under twnety-one years of age or a taxpayer on real or personal property located in the district and that portion which requires a voter in a 'school election held on a proposal to incur, * * * [93 Idaho 477]

Page 943

any indebtedness' to be a taxpayer, or spouse of a taxpayer, on real property.

I.C. § 33-404 sets out qualifications for voting in two distinct types of elections: i.e. 'school elections' and 'school election(s) held on a proposal to incur * * * indebtedness.' The parental and real or personal property taxpayer qualifications are applicable only to the former and are not involved here. However, in view of Kramer v. Union Free School Dist., supra, such qualifications are unconstitutional when applied to school elections. We are concerned solely with the validity of the real property taxpayer requirement in a 'school election held on a proposal to incur * * * any indebtedness.'

It has long been settled that the United States Constitution leaves establishment of voter qualifications to the individual states. United States Constitution, Art. 1, § 2; Lassiter v. Northampton County Election Board, 360 U.S. 45, 79 S.Ct. 985, 3 L.Ed.2d 1072 (1959). Only when these qualifications result in an invidious discrimination are they in violation of the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. See Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 86 S.Ct. 1079, 16 L.Ed.2d 169 (1966).

The discrimination between property owners and nonproperty owners in elections to create indebtedness was authorized in Idaho since adoption of its constitution in 1890. Idaho Const. Art. 1, § 20; Wiggin v. City of Lewiston, 8 Idaho 527, 69 P. 286 (1902); Hartman v. Meier, 39 Idaho 261, 227 P. 25 (1924). See also Bissett v. Pioneer Irrigation Dist., 21 Idaho 98,...

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7 practice notes
  • Bogert v. Kinzer, No. 10446
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 17 Febrero 1970
    ...v. Martin, 210 Iowa 207, 230 N.W. 540 (1930). See also [93 Idaho 518] Page 642 our decision of this Term, Muench, et al. v. Paine, et al., 93 Idaho 473, 463 P.2d 939 (January 16, Appellants (defendants below) contend that the trial court had no jurisdiction to issue the writ of mandate in p......
  • Pike v. School Dist. No. 11 in El Paso County, No. 11
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 31 Agosto 1970
    ...We could follow Stewart v. Parish School Board, D.C., 310 F.Supp. 1172 (1970) and affirm; or we could subscribe to Muench v. Paine, 93 Idaho 473, 463 P.2d 939 (1970); Settle v. City of Muskogee, 462 P.2d 642 (Okla.1969); and Settle v. Board of County Commissioners, 462 P.2d 646 (Okla.1969).......
  • Stewart v. Parish School Bd. of Parish of St. Charles, Civ. A. No. 69-2818.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 25 Febrero 1970
    ...Dec. 23, 1969, 462 P.2d 642; Settle v. Board of Commissioners, Co. of Muskogee, Okl., Dec. 23, 1969, 462 P.2d 646; Muench v. Paine, Idaho, 463 P.2d 939. The State's compelling interest in fixing the qualifications of voters in school 310 F. Supp. 1178 bond elections is to delegate to the vo......
  • Paulson v. Minidoka County School Dist. No. 331, No. 331
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 16 Enero 1970
    ...the school authorities, that his classmates use; and no voluntary act of his can obviate the need for books nor lessen their expense. 8 [93 Idaho 473] Page 939 School books are, thus, indistinguishable from other fixed educational expense items such as school building maintenance or teacher......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Bogert v. Kinzer, No. 10446
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 17 Febrero 1970
    ...v. Martin, 210 Iowa 207, 230 N.W. 540 (1930). See also [93 Idaho 518] Page 642 our decision of this Term, Muench, et al. v. Paine, et al., 93 Idaho 473, 463 P.2d 939 (January 16, Appellants (defendants below) contend that the trial court had no jurisdiction to issue the writ of mandate in p......
  • Pike v. School Dist. No. 11 in El Paso County, No. 11
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 31 Agosto 1970
    ...We could follow Stewart v. Parish School Board, D.C., 310 F.Supp. 1172 (1970) and affirm; or we could subscribe to Muench v. Paine, 93 Idaho 473, 463 P.2d 939 (1970); Settle v. City of Muskogee, 462 P.2d 642 (Okla.1969); and Settle v. Board of County Commissioners, 462 P.2d 646 (Okla.1969).......
  • Stewart v. Parish School Bd. of Parish of St. Charles, Civ. A. No. 69-2818.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 25 Febrero 1970
    ...Dec. 23, 1969, 462 P.2d 642; Settle v. Board of Commissioners, Co. of Muskogee, Okl., Dec. 23, 1969, 462 P.2d 646; Muench v. Paine, Idaho, 463 P.2d 939. The State's compelling interest in fixing the qualifications of voters in school 310 F. Supp. 1178 bond elections is to delegate to the vo......
  • Paulson v. Minidoka County School Dist. No. 331, No. 331
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 16 Enero 1970
    ...the school authorities, that his classmates use; and no voluntary act of his can obviate the need for books nor lessen their expense. 8 [93 Idaho 473] Page 939 School books are, thus, indistinguishable from other fixed educational expense items such as school building maintenance or teacher......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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