Petuskey v. Rampton

Decision Date02 September 1970
Docket NumberNo. 661-69,662-69.,661-69
Citation431 F.2d 378
PartiesWilliam G. PETUSKEY et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, Brian Florence, Intervenor-Appellant, v. Calvin L. RAMPTON, as Governor of the State of Utah, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit


William J. Lockhart and A. Wally Sandack, Salt Lake City, Utah, for plaintiffs-appellants and intervenor-appellant.

Robert B. Hansen and Melvin E. Leslie, Asst. Attys. Gen. (Vernon B. Romney, Atty. Gen., State of Utah, on the brief), for defendants-appellees.

Before BREITENSTEIN, HILL and SETH, Circuit Judges.

BREITENSTEIN, Circuit Judge.

The problems pertaining to three-judge district court litigation reach a peak of some sort in the unusual situation presented by these appeals. We are asked to review the decision of the three-judge court and the later and contradictory decision of the single judge. We hold that we have appellate jurisdiction over each, affirm the three-judge decision, and reverse the injunctions granted by the single judge.

A statement of the history of the litigation must precede any attempt to get at the issues. On January 16, 1963, Petuskey and others sued the governor of Utah and other state officials claiming an unconstitutional apportionment of the Utah legislature. A three-judge district court was promptly convened. That court held that the apportionment was federally unconstitutional and retained jurisdiction. See 234 F.Supp. 960, decided September 12, 1964. A reapportionment effort by the Utah legislature was later modified and the court again retained jurisdiction. See 243 F.Supp. 365, decided July 3, 1965.

On January 28, 1965, the Utah legislature adopted S.J.R. No. 3, which "applies to the Congress of the United States to call a convention for the purpose of proposing * * * an amendment to the Constitution of the United States" which would provide for the apportionment of one House of a state legislature on a basis other than population. See U.S.Const., Art. V. The Utah Secretary of State promptly forwarded a copy of S.J.R. No. 3 to the Congress of the United States.

On June 6, 1969, Florence filed a motion for leave to intervene, asserting that S.J.R. No. 3 was void because enacted by a malapportioned legislature. The district judge before whom the original case had fallen granted a temporary restraining order. The three-judge court was reconvened, and a hearing was held. On July 8, 1969, the three-judge court dissolved the restraining order, denied the intervention as untimely, and dissolved the three-judge court, but did not dismiss the case.

On August 6, 1969, without notice to the defendants and without any further hearing, the single judge granted leave to the original plaintiffs to amend their complaint so as to assert the invalidity of S.J.R. No. 3, allowed the intervention, and granted a preliminary injunction. See 307 F.Supp. 235.

The plaintiffs and the intervenor on the next day filed a notice of appeal from the July 8, 1969, order of the three-judge court. This appeal is No. 661-69.

On August 20, 1969, the defendants filed a notice of appeal from the preliminary injunction granted on August 6 by the single judge. This appeal is No. 662-69.

The defendants then answered the amended complaint and the petition in intervention. The single judge conducted a hearing, made findings of fact and conclusions of law, and entered a judgment that S.J.R. No. 3 was void and that the Secretary of State was "enjoined and commanded" to advise Congress that S.J.R. No. 3 was invalid. The judgment was entered October 10, 1969. See 307 F.Supp. 235, 255.

On the same day the defendants filed a notice of appeal from that judgment. This appeal has never been docketed in the court of appeals.

Several days later the plaintiffs and intervenor moved to present additional evidence and to amend the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment. A stipulation of facts was made and the court amended its findings.

On October 31, 1969, the parties filed in the district court a stipulation that "all pending appeals * * * may be consolidated" and designated the record. On January 2, the clerk of the court of appeals, pursuant to Court Rule 11(e), entered an order consolidating the appeals in Nos. 661-69 and 662-69. The undocketed appeal from the permanent injunction was not included in the consolidation order.

The first question is what is before us. Ordinarily when a case is appealed the district court loses jurisdiction over it. Aune v. Reynders, 10 Cir., 344 F.2d 835, 841, and cases cited in note 16. Nothing in the record before us presents an extraordinary situation taking this case out of the rule. It is unnecessary to decide whether the loss of jurisdiction occurred on August 7, 1969, when the plaintiffs and intervenor appealed from the order of the three-judge court or on August 20, 1969, when the defendants appealed from the preliminary injunction. Nothing of importance happened in the case between those two dates. The district court lost jurisdiction no later than August 20. All actions taken by it thereafter are void because of the absence of jurisdiction. The permanent injunction is set aside and dissolved.

The appeal from the order entered by the three-judge district court presents an anomalous situation. This appeal was taken by the plaintiffs and intervenor, who seek to establish the invalidity of S.J.R. No. 3. Before the appeal was taken they had attained their objective with the single judge's grant of a preliminary injunction.

Section 1253, Title 28, gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction over an appeal "from an order granting or denying, after notice and hearing, an interlocutory or permanent injunction" in a case required to be heard by three judges. Assuming the case was properly heard by three judges, the quoted language does not apply here. The three-judge panel did not grant or deny an interlocutory or permanent injunction. In view of the strict construction the Supreme Court has given this language in order to limit its appellate jurisdiction over three-judge orders, see Goldstein v. Cox, 396 U.S. 471, 90 S.Ct. 671, 24 L. Ed.2d 663; Mitchell v. Donovan, 398 U. S. 427, 90 S.Ct. 1763, 26 L.Ed.2d 378, and Gunn v. University Committee to End War in Vietnam, 399 U.S. 383, 90 S.Ct. 2013, 26 L.Ed.2d 684, we believe that the Court would not consider this order to be appealable to it.

We still have the question of our jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The problem does not relate to the dissolution of the restraining order, which would ordinarily not be appealable. Cf. Hyde Construction Company v. Koehring Company, 10 Cir., 388 F.2d 501, 511, cert. denied 391 U.S. 905, 88 S.Ct. 1654, 20 L.Ed.2d 419. Rather it centers around the denial of the intervention and the subsequent dissolution of the statutory court.

The Supreme Court has held that dissolution for lack of jurisdiction is reviewable by the courts of appeals rather than by the Supreme Court. Mengelkoch v. Industrial Welfare Commission, 393 U.S. 83, 89 S.Ct. 60, 21 L.Ed.2d 215; see also Wilson v. City of Port Lavaca, 391 U.S. 352, 88 S.Ct. 1502, 20 L.Ed.2d 636. Whatever may have been the reason for the dissolution, the fact remains that in the case at bar the three-judge court rejected the intervention and without it there was no jurisdiction over the constitutionality of S.J.R. No. 3. The dissolution is therefore reviewable by this court. In view of the interrelationship of the denial of intervention and the dissolution, and in the interests of orderly procedure, we feel constrained to hold that we also have jurisdiction to consider the intervention question.

The propriety of the dissolution hinges on the denial of the intervention. The only substantive issue before the court — the validity of S.J.R. No. 3 — was presented primarily by the intervenor. It is true that the plaintiffs sought to amend their complaint to assert the invalidity of S.J.R. No. 3, but the motion was not ruled on by the three judges, and absent action on their part we will not consider it. Thus, if the intervention was properly denied, the dissolution which followed was a matter within the discretion of the court, for there was no longer anything before it other than the original case, which had been dormant for four years.

The requested intervention was not of right under Rule 24(a), F.R.Civ.P. The subject matter of the original action is the malapportionment of the legislature. That of the intervention is the validity of an act of such a legislature. These are separate problems. The pendency of the malapportionment suit is no bar to a suit asserting the invalidity of S.J.R. No. 3 and does not impair or impede the ability of the intervenor to attack the joint resolution. The common question of law and fact, malapportionment, brings the petition within the Rule 24(b) provisions on permissive intervention. In the absence of an abuse of discretion no appeal lies when the intervention is permissive. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. B. & O. R. Co., 331 U. S. 519, 525, 67 S.Ct. 1387, 91 L.Ed. 1646. There was no abuse of discretion in denying permissive intervention six years after the case was brought and four years after the last court action in the case. Moreover, the intervention sought to inject a new and different issue.

We conclude that we have jurisdiction over the appeal from the order of the three-judge court and we affirm that order.

The judge before whom the case had originally...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • American Federation of Labor v. Eu
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 27 Agosto 1984
    ...only a three-judge court would have jurisdiction to enjoin the state from transmitting its application to the Congress. (Petuskey v. Rampton (1970) 431 F.2d 378, cert. den., 401 U.S. 913, 91 S.Ct. 882, 27 L.Ed.2d 812.) The second reported decision, Opinion of the Justices to the Senate (197......
  • Sweeten v. Sneddon
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Utah
    • 22 Marzo 1971
    ...Tyler v. Russel, 410 F.2d 490 (10th Cir. 1969); Board of Education v. Oklahoma, 409 F.2d 665 (10th Cir. 1969). Cf. Petuskey v. Rampton, 431 F.2d 378 (10th Cir. 1970). The three-judge court statute should not be construed liberally as a measure of broad social policy; it is a technical enact......
  • N.C. State Conference of The Nat'l Ass'n v. Moore
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 19 Agosto 2022
    ... ... legislators to initiate the process of changing a state's ... fundamental law. Cf. Petuskey v. Rampton, 307 ... F.Supp. 235, 253-54 (C.D. Utah 1969) ("Based [u]pon ... ideas of practicality, the ordinary, customary legislation ... to ... ...
  • N.C. State Conference of the Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Colored People v. Moore
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 19 Agosto 2022
    ...legislators’ attempt to continue themselves in their illegal state of unconstitutional apportionment."), rev'd on other grounds , 431 F.2d 378 (10th Cir. 1970) ; City of Chicago v. Reeves , 220 Ill. 274, 288, 77 N.E. 237 (1906) ("The right to propose amendments to the Constitution is not th......
  • 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