Coleman v. Miller

307 U.S. 433, 59 S. Ct. 972 (1939)



In determining whether a question falls within the category of political and not justiciable, the appropriateness under the American system of government of attributing finality to the action of the political departments and also the lack of satisfactory criteria for a judicial determination are dominant considerations.


In January, 1925, the Legislature of Kansas adopted a resolution rejecting a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. Twelve years later, the amendment was taken up again and was approved with the Lieutenant Governor casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Twenty-one members of the Senate, including those who voted against the adoption, sought review of the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas that rejected their petition for writ of mandamus, which sought to compel the Secretary to reverse the entry of passage in the Senate. They contended that the legislature could not later approve an amendment which it had previously rejected and that the amendment had lost its vitality due to the passage of time. On appeal, the Court affirmed the decision of the state supreme court. The Court affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas that denied the requested writ of mandamus.


Was the issue of the constitutional amendment losing its vitality by lapse of time a political question resting with ultimate authority of the Congress?




The Congress in controlling the promulgation of the adoption of a constitutional amendment has the final determination of the question whether by lapse of time its proposal of the amendment had lost its vitality prior to the required ratifications. The state officials should not be restrained from certifying to the Secretary of State the adoption by the legislature of Kansas of the resolution of ratification.

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