Reynolds v. Sims

377 U.S. 533, 84 S. Ct. 1362 (1964)

 

RULE:

All qualified voters have a constitutionally protected right to vote and to have their votes counted. The right to vote can neither be denied outright nor destroyed by alteration of ballots, nor diluted by ballot-box stuffing. 

FACTS:

Voters in several Alabama counties brought suit against various officials having state election duties. The complaint alleged serious discrimination against voters in counties whose populations had grown proportionately far more than others since the 1900 census which, despite Alabama's constitutional requirements for legislative representation based on population and for decennial reapportionment, formed the basis for the existing legislative apportionment. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court, which held that the existing and two legislatively proposed plans for the apportionment of seats in the two houses of the Alabama legislature were invalid.

ISSUE:

 Were the lower courts correct to invalidate existing and proposed plans for the apportionment of Alabama's bicameral legislature?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the Equal Protection Clause required both houses of a bicameral state legislature to be apportioned on a population basis and that recourse to the so-called "federal analogy" would not be sustained. The district court was found to have acted with proper judicial restraint after the Alabama legislature failed to act effectively to remedy the constitutional deficiencies in its apportionment scheme in ordering its own temporary plan to permit the holding of elections pursuant to it without great difficulty and in retaining jurisdiction and deferring a hearing on a final injunction to allow the legislature opportunity to act effectively.

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