United States v. Manning

Decision Date23 February 1963
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 8257.
Citation215 F. Supp. 272
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Cecil MANNING, as Registrar of Voters of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, and the State of Louisiana, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana


St. John Barrett, Frank M. Dunbaugh, Gerald P. Choppin, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Edward L. Shaheen, U. S. Atty. for Western Dist. of Louisiana, for plaintiff.

Jack P. F. Gremillion, Atty. Gen. of Louisiana, Carroll Buck, First Asst. Atty. Gen., Albin P. Lassiter, Dist. Atty., Fourth Judicial District, Thompson L. Clarke, Dist. Atty., Sixth Judicial District, Harry J. Kron, Jr., William P. Schuler, Asst. Attys. Gen., Thomas W. McFerrin, Sp. Counsel, Cecil Manning, as Registrar of Voters of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, and the State of Louisiana, for defendants.

Before WISDOM, Circuit Judge, and CHRISTENBERRY and HUNTER, District Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge.

In this action the State of Louisiana strikes at the vitals of the Civil Rights Act of 1960. These vitals are the power of a federal district court to make a finding of a pattern of discrimination in the denial of registration to Negroes and the concomitant power of the court itself to redress the grievance or to use a voting referee, should the court decide to utilize a referee as an arm of the court in undoing the discrimination. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1971(e).1 The Attorney General of Louisiana contends that the statute is unconstitutional because it (1) invades rights reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment, (2) delegates a non-judicial function to the district court, and (3) injects the court into a matter that is not a "case or controversy." These contentions are embodied in the State's complaint and motion which were not filed in the form of an original law-suit but were filed, captioned, and numbered in United States v. Manning et al., the lawsuit filed initially by the Attorney General of the United States under 42 U.S. C.A. § 1971. This three-judge court was constituted to consider the State's complaint and motion. (All other proceedings in this case have been heard by a single judge.) At the conclusion of the hearing on the State's complaint and motion, the court rendered an informal opinion from the bench upholding the constitutionality of the Act. We announced that our reasons would be stated more fully in a formal opinion.2 We now state these reasons.

First, however, we review briefly the proceedings leading up to the present phase of the action.

April 28, 1961, the Attorney General of the United States filed a complaint alleging that Cecil Manning, registrar of voters of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, was discriminating against Negro applicants for registration. Under 42 U.S. C.A. § 1971(c), as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the State of Louisiana was named a party defendant. May 30, 1962, the district court entered judgment for the plaintiff on the finding that Negro citizens in the parish had been deprived of their right to vote, in violation of 42 U.S.C.A. § 1971(a), "pursuant to a pattern or practice" within the meaning of Section 1971(e). Thereafter, 78 Negro citizens of East Carroll Parish applied to the court under the provisions of the statute here challenged for orders declaring them qualified to vote under state law. July 12, 1962, after an ex parte hearing,3 the court entered an order finding that twenty-eight of the applicants were qualified to vote. A copy of this order was served upon each of the parties, and the plaintiff and defendants were allowed an opportunity to file objections. The State of Louisiana filed objections to the court's findings with respect to all twenty-eight applicants found qualified; the United States filed an objection to the court's finding with respect to one of the applicants found unqualified. A hearing on the objections was set for the afternoon of July 23.

On the morning of July 23, the State of Louisiana filed a "complaint and motion" alleging that the court, in proceeding to act upon the applications of Negroes pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 1971(e), was "acting as registrar," and that the provisions of Section 1971(e) authorizing the judge so to act were an unconstitutional delegation of non-judicial powers upon a federal judge. The State asked that a three-judge court be convened under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2284; that the court declare Section 1971(e) unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.4

The State did not name the persons against whom the injunction was to run. With its "complaint and motion", however, the State filed a motion for temporary restraining order against United States District Judge Edwin F. Hunter, Jr., "his subordinates, agents, and his successors and assigns from executing or enforcing the terms or provisions of 42 U.S.C.A. 1971(e)." Judge Hunter, before whom the present litigation was pending, recused himself. Judge Wisdom, sitting in Judge Hunter's place by special assignment, denied the motion. The court set the matter for hearing on the merits the following day.

In accordance with the State's request, a three-judge district court was convened. July 24, 1962, the court heard the matter and, after a short recess at the conclusion of the hearing, the court denied the relief sought by the State and dismissed the "complaint and motion." D.C., 206 F.Supp. 623 (1962).

I. The Tenth Amendment as a Barrier to Federal Action under the Civil Rights Act

A. Background. We approach the problem posed by the State's reliance on the Tenth Amendment with unalloyed respect for the values of federalism and for the root-principle of American federalism — fractionation of governmental power through the constitutional recognition of the standing of states as political entities, not as administrative divisions of a central government. We have fixed firmly in our minds counsels of caution from two profound students of federalism. In measured terms Woodrow Wilson pointed out:

"The question of the relation of the States to the federal government is the cardinal question of our constitutional system. At every turn of our national development we have been brought face to face with it, and no definition either of statesmen or of judges has ever quieted or decided it * * *
"It is difficult to discuss so critical and fundamental a question calmly. * * * Because it lies at the heart of our constitutional system, to decide it wrongly is to alter the whole structure and operation of our government, for good or for evil * * * A sobering sense of responsibility should fall upon every one who handles it".5 (Emphasis ours.)

Justice Frankfurter has cautioned:

"The interpenetrations of modern society have not wiped out state lines. It is not for us to make inroads upon our federal system either by indifference to its maintenance or excessive regard for the unifying forces of modern technology. Scholastic reasoning may prove that no activity is isolated within the boundaries of a single State, but that cannot justify absorption of legislative power by the United States over every activity."6

But nothing in the language or history of the Tenth Amendment gives the State exclusive sovereignty over the election processes against the federal government's otherwise constitutional exercise of a power within the scope of Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. In Justice Holmes's phrase, this "is not a controversy between equals."7 It is necessary at this time to say again, and underscore it, that within the area of delegated power, express or implied, the Tenth Amendment does not reduce the powers of the United States. Instead, notwithstanding its origin, the Tenth Amendment reaffirms the reality of the nation as a nation. It reaffirms the sovereignty of the federal union when a conflict between a state and the United States puts the national interest at stake.

The Tenth Amendment does not stand in lonely isolation. It must be read along with the rest of the Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. The Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2, is the keystone of the Constitution and the principal feature distinguishing the Constitution from the Articles of Confeder ation. It reads:

"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

The Necessary and Proper Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18, imperative to effective government, reads:

"The Congress shall have Power * * * to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

The Tenth Amendment must be read in the light of its history. A comparison of the amendment with Article II of the Articles of Confederation is a fair starting point.

In 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. Its structural weakness as a frame of government was obvious: each state considered itself an independent sovereignty and "decisions of Congress were little more than recommendations."8 The Second Article expresses clearly the dominant intention of its framers to make the Confederation a league of independent, sovereign states:9

"Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."

There is no counterpart of this article in the original United States Constitution of 1789. That was no oversight. Article II, more than...

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