Taylor v. Keithen 8212 784, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BLACKMUN; REHNQUIST
Citation407 U.S. 191,92 S.Ct. 1980,32 L.Ed.2d 648
PartiesDorothy TAYLOR et al. v. John J. McKEITHEN, Governor of Louisiana, et al. —784
Docket NumberNo. 71
Decision Date12 June 1972

407 U.S. 191
92 S.Ct. 1980
32 L.Ed.2d 648
Dorothy TAYLOR et al.

v.

John J. McKEITHEN, Governor of Louisiana, et al.

No. 71—784.
June 12, 1972.

PER CURIAM.

The 1970 self-reapportionment of the Louisiana Legislature was challenged in this lawsuit on the dual grounds that it offended both the one-man, one-vote principle and the prohibition against voting arrangements designed to dilute the voting strength of racial minorities. After the United States Attorney General interposed an objection to the election law change under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 439, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c, the District Court appointed a Special Master to prepare a court-imposed plan. The Master was verbally instructed to hold hearings and to devise a proposal to maintain the integrity of political subdivisions and to observe natural or historical boundaries 'as nearly as possible.' He was also instructed that '(n)o consideration whatsoever was to be given to the location of the residence of either incumbents in office or of announced or prospective candidates.' Opinion of Judge West, Civil Action No. 71—234, Aug. 24, 1971.

The Special Master held four days of hearings, during

Page 192

which over 100 persons were heard. Proposed plans were received by him. No one was denied a hearing. He then submitted his recommendation to the District Court and after a hearing it was adopted by the court.

This dispute involves only four state senate seats affected by the reapportionment. At the hearing held by the District Judge on the Master's proposal, the State Attorney General presented a counterplan which differed from the Master's only with respect to four senatorial districts in the New Orleans area. Although the judge found that both plans satisfied the one-man, one-vote requirement, he found that the two schemes differed in their racial composition of the four districts, as is set out in greater detail in the margin.1 Under the State Attorney General's scheme, four 'safe' white districts were proposed whereas the Master's design would have created two districts of slight majorities of black voters. Also, under the counterplan each incumbent would continue to reside in his 'own' district, whereas under the Master's proposal the residences of the four incumbents would fall evenly between the two districts to be composed primarily of white voters, ensuring defeat for two of the four incumbents.

At the hearing the State Attorney General contended that the court's plan would make hash of the traditional ward-and-precinct lines. The District Court acknowledged that there would be some departure from the historical patterns but concluded that the "historical'

Page 193

boundaries of voting districts in Louisiana reflect(ed) a history of racial discrimination. Adherence to the historical boundaries alluded to by objectors (had) been the prime reason why only two negroes (had) been allowed to sit in the Louisiana Legislature in the last 75 years.' 333 F.Supp. 452, 462. The court found that the alternative proposal would 'operate to diversify the negro voting population throughout the four districts and thus significantly dilute their vote' and would practically eliminate 'the possibility of a negro being elected from any of the four districts,' while the court-approved plan woud at least give blacks 'a fair chance in two out of the four districts. . . .' Id., at 457. The court-approved plan sought 'to protect the rights of the people while the primary purpose of the Senators' plan appear(ed) to be the protection of incumbent office holders.' Id., at 458. Accordingly, as mentioned, the District Court adopted the Master's recommendation.

Despite the District Court's findings, however, the Court of Appeals reversed without opinion and adopted the Attorney General's alternative division of New Orleans. The petitioners are the original plaintiffs and they now seek review of this summary reversal.

An examination of the record in this case suggests that the Court of Appeals may have believed that benign districting by federal judges is itself unconstitutional gerrymandering even where (a) it is employed to overcome the residual effects of past state dilution of Negro...

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29 practice notes
  • Castorena v. City of Los Angeles
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 29 Octubre 1973
    ...of Louisiana (E.D.La.1971), 333 F.Supp. 452, 463, modified 457 F.2d 796, vacated and remanded, sub. nom. Taylor v. McKeithen (1972), 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648; see also, Gaffney v. Cummings (1973), 412 U.S. 735, 93 S.Ct. 2321, 37 L.Ed.2d 298, 313; White v. Weiser (1973), 4......
  • Graves v. Barnes, Civ. A. No. A-71-CA-142 to A-71-CA-145
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 31 Octubre 1977
    ...State policy. See White v. Weiser, supra; Gaffney v. Cummings, 412 U.S. 735, 93 S.Ct. 2321, 37 L.Ed.2d 298 (1973); Taylor v. McKeithen, 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648 (1972); Burns v. Richardson, 384 U.S. 73, 89 n. 16, 86 S.Ct. 1286, 16 L.Ed.2d 376 (1966). Plaintiffs' plan woul......
  • Connor v. Finch Finch v. Connor United States v. Finch 76 935, Nos. 76-777
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 31 Mayo 1977
    ...be faced with hard remedial problems' in minimizing friction between their remedies and legitimate state policies." Taylor v. McKeithen, 407 U.S. 191, 194, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 1982, 32 L.Ed.2d 648, quoting Sixty-seventh Minnesota State Senate v. Beens, 406 U.S. 187, 204, 92 S.Ct. 1477, 1487, 32 ......
  • Major v. Treen, Civ. A. No. 82-1192.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 16 Septiembre 1988
    ...litigated as lead counsel the matter of Bussie v. McKeithen, 333 F.Supp. 452 (E.D.La. 1971), aff'd, 457 F.2d 796 (5th Cir.1971); remanded, 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648 (1972), 499 F.2d 893 (5th Cir. 1974). From 1974 through 1976, Mr. Halpin served as lead counsel on behalf of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Castorena v. City of Los Angeles
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 29 Octubre 1973
    ...of Louisiana (E.D.La.1971), 333 F.Supp. 452, 463, modified 457 F.2d 796, vacated and remanded, sub. nom. Taylor v. McKeithen (1972), 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648; see also, Gaffney v. Cummings (1973), 412 U.S. 735, 93 S.Ct. 2321, 37 L.Ed.2d 298, 313; White v. Weiser (1973), 4......
  • Graves v. Barnes, Civ. A. No. A-71-CA-142 to A-71-CA-145
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 31 Octubre 1977
    ...State policy. See White v. Weiser, supra; Gaffney v. Cummings, 412 U.S. 735, 93 S.Ct. 2321, 37 L.Ed.2d 298 (1973); Taylor v. McKeithen, 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648 (1972); Burns v. Richardson, 384 U.S. 73, 89 n. 16, 86 S.Ct. 1286, 16 L.Ed.2d 376 (1966). Plaintiffs' plan woul......
  • Connor v. Finch Finch v. Connor United States v. Finch 76 935, Nos. 76-777
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 31 Mayo 1977
    ...be faced with hard remedial problems' in minimizing friction between their remedies and legitimate state policies." Taylor v. McKeithen, 407 U.S. 191, 194, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 1982, 32 L.Ed.2d 648, quoting Sixty-seventh Minnesota State Senate v. Beens, 406 U.S. 187, 204, 92 S.Ct. 1477, 1487, 32 ......
  • Major v. Treen, Civ. A. No. 82-1192.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 16 Septiembre 1988
    ...litigated as lead counsel the matter of Bussie v. McKeithen, 333 F.Supp. 452 (E.D.La. 1971), aff'd, 457 F.2d 796 (5th Cir.1971); remanded, 407 U.S. 191, 92 S.Ct. 1980, 32 L.Ed.2d 648 (1972), 499 F.2d 893 (5th Cir. 1974). From 1974 through 1976, Mr. Halpin served as lead counsel on behalf of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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