1980s Redistricting Case Summaries


scales of justiceThis page highlights cases related to state legislative and congressional redistricting following the 1980 census.




Case Summaries


Burton, et a1. v. Hobbie, et al. (I), 543 F. Supp. 235 (1982)

A class action suit brought on behalf of all black citizens of Alabama challenged the 1egislative reapportionment plan alleging that it discriminated against blacks. A second plan was enacted after the initial 1egislative plan failed to gain preclearance from the Justice Department. The second plan, which gained tentative preclearance a1 so was challenged because it did not construct as nearly as possible equal population districts, and some of the newly drawn districts failed to satisfactorily match county boundaries. As a result, plaintiffs claimed the second plan also diluted minority voting strength. The U.S. District Court however, found that the legislature had made a good faith effort to satisfy constitutional requirements and therefore adopted the legislature’s plan on an interim basis for the 1982 elections.

Burton, et al. v. Hobbie, et al. (II), 61 F. Supp. 1029 (1983)

Following the 1982 elections, the U.S. Attorney General objected to the interim legislative reapportionment plan because it violated the Voting Rights Act. As a result, legislators elected in 1982 could not serve beyond December 31, 1983. Subsequently, another plan was enacted by the legislature, which gained preclearance from the Justice Department. Both parties to the action submitted a proposed settlement to the court, urging the court to approve the enacted plan, but to eliminate the need for the 1983 elections called for under the plan. The court agreed that the plan satisfied a11 constitutional requirements, but he1d that since the plan under which the 1982 elections were held was declared unconstitutional, new elections in 1983 were required.

Bogard v. Hobbie, 569 F. Supp. 477 (1983)

Following the court’s order in Burton requiring elections in the fall of 1983, plaintiffs sought to require primaries prior to the general election, instead of having the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) select nominees. They contended that the SDEC had a smaller percentage of black representation than the 1egislative districts from which nominees would be selected in the primary, and would thereby dilute the black vote. The court held that if a political party chooses to hold a primary it cannot be denied that right, but it cannot be compelled to hold one.


Carpenter v. Hammond, 667 P. 2d 1204 (1983), appeal dismissed 104 S. CT. 45

Plaintiff's challenge to the 1981 1egislative reapportionment was dismissed by the district court on all claims except for the adjustment of boundary lines between two districts. The plaintiff appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court held that the methods used in identifying and excluding nonresident members of the military and their dependents from the reapportionment population base did not violate the federal equal protection clause by impermissibly reducing the voting strength of voters residing in districts where the military and their dependents were excluded. However, the court did find that one district violated Article VI, Section 6, of the Alaska Constitution which requires that each new district created be formed of “contiguous and compact territory containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socioeconomic area.”


Goddard, et a1. v. Babbitt, 536 F. Supp. 538 (1982)

The 1egislative and congressional reapportionment plans were challenged by Democrats and members of the San Carlos Apache Reservation on the basis of gerrymandering, dilution of racial and ethnic minority voting strength, and failure to achieve numerical equality as nearly as practical between congressional districts. The court held that the 1egislative redistricting bill violated the Voting Rights Act, because the Department of Justice refused to preclear the bill, and that the congressional reapportionment plan failed to achieve numerical equality as nearly as practical between congressional districts. The court adopted revisions to each plan agreed to by all parties and found that both plans satisfied constitutional requirements.


Wells, et al. v. White, et al., 623 S.W. 2d 187 (1981), cert. denied 456 U.S. 906

An action was brought seeking to compel the State Board of Apportionment to redistrict the state legislature in a manner whereby no county lines would be crossed in the formation of districts. The request was based on a state constitutional requirement that each county have at least one legislator in the State House of Representatives. The court rejected the demand and held that the state constitutional requirement violated the “one-person, one-vote” mandate of Reynolds v. Sims and the 14th Amendment.

Bizzell, et al. v. White, et al., 625 S.W. 2d 528 (1982)

The composition of a single senate district was challenged on the grounds that the proposed boundary lines violated equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment and the district was neither compact nor contiguous, resulting in the dilution of the voting strength of some of the new citizens of the district. The court granted a motion to dismiss on the basis that the redistricting plan could not be attacked in a piecemeal fashion. The court indicated that the act of redrawing one district would have a “ripple effect” on other districts and therefore the entire plan must be challenged to constitute a valid cause of action.

Doulin, et al. v. White, et al., 528 F. Supp. 1323 (1982)

The congressional redistricting plan was declared invalid for failure to achieve sufficient population equality (population variance of 2.10%). The court was presented with eight prospective plans, seven of which had a population variance of less than .8%. The court in determining which plan to adopt acknowledged that the principal criterion for congressional redistricting is population equality, but it is not the sole criterion. As long as the population variance satisfies constitutional requirements, the court should respect decisions made by the state legislature which reflect “important state interests,” such as not disrupting “existing patterns of constituency–representative relationships.” The court adopted a plan which was most similar to the plan originally adopted by the legislature while still satisfying constitutional criteria.

Taylor v. Clinton, 680 S.W. 2d 98 (1984)

A petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the Board of Reapportionment to redistrict the legislature so that each county would have at least one representative was denied by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The court held that the petition was untimely as application for revision must be filed within 30 days after the report for reapportionment is filed with the Secretary of State. The petition was filed two-and-a-half years after the report. In addition, the court held that while the constitution contains a provision that each county should have at least one representative, the provision had been found unconstitutional, and said that crossing county lines is necessary to achieve equal population.


Assembly of the State of California, et al. v. Deukmejian, et al., 30 Cal. 3d 638 (1982), appeal dismissed 102 S. CT. 2003

Following passage of congressional and 1egislative reapportionment plans, Republicans held a petition drive to place the statutes on the ballot as referenda questions. After completing a successful petition drive, members of the legislature filed suit alleging the petitions contained certain defects which rendered them invalid. However, even if the petitions were valid, the implementation of the reapportionment statutes should not be stayed pending the outcome of the referenda vote. The court held that while in one instance the defect was serious and technically sufficient to invalidate the referenda, none were deemed to invalidate the petitions. Pending the outcome of the referenda, the court adopted its own tentative reapportionment plan so that the state could proceed with the 1982 elections. The plan adopted by the court was the same as that passed by the 1egislature.

Badham v. Eu, 721 F. 2d 1170 (1983)

Registered Republican voters challenged the congressional redistricting bill on both state and federal constitutional grounds. With regard to state constitutional violations, they alleged the plan: 1) failed to respect city and county units and contained noncontiguous districts; 2) contravened the voters intent in rejecting Proposition 10; 3) violated the three-reading rule; and, 4) usurped the role of the legislature, when technical changes were implemented by the Secretary of State.

With regard to federal constitutional violations, they claimed the plan: 1) was a political gerrymander; 2) exceeded constitutional deviation limitations; and, 3) violated the due process and equal protection clauses.

The federal court abstained from the case until the state issues were resolved by a state court. The case has been set for further hearing.


Carstens, et a1. v. Lamm, 543 F. Supp. 68 (1982)

A stalemate between the Governor and the General Assembly resulted in judicial intervention in congressional reapportionment. The court considered five separate plans, but found each lacking with regard to one or more of five criteria used to assess the plan’s validity. The court employed two constitutional and three nonconstitutional criteria to assess the plans: 1) population equality as nearly as practicable; 2) absence of racial discrimination; 3) compactness and contiguity of districts; 4) preservation of county or municipal boundaries; and, 5) preservation of communities of interest. The court found that each of the proffered plans satisfied the constitutional requirements, but failed to adequately preserve relevant political boundaries and important communities of interest. The court chose to fashion its own plan drawing from the desirable elements of the five plans.

Kallenberger v. Buchanan, 649 P. 2d 314 (1982)

A statute required that a vacancy in the office of a holdover senator must be filled from the district from which the senator was elected (prior to reapportionment). The trial court ordered the Secretary of State to use special boundaries encompassing all the old and new districts. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed. It held that since residents in the new district would still be represented by the replacement elected, just as they would have been represented by the original senator had he not resigned, the statute concerning the method of filling vacancies was constitutional. The court specifically cited the presumption and constitutionality and the rule that a statute’s unconstitutionality must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Re Reapportionment of the Colorado General Assembly, 647 P. 2d 209 (1982)

In Reapportionment of the Colorado General Assembly, 647 P. 2d 191 (1982), the Colorado Supreme Court approved the Reapportionment Commission’s plan except the portion establishing the sequence of election in two senate districts, of which one (scheduled to elect in 1982) included two incumbents whose terms expired in 1982 and 1984 and the other (scheduled to elect in 1984) included no incumbent. The court held that the state constitution guarantees that all citizens will receive an identifiable representative, either a holdover senator or a new senator elected upon implementation of the reapportionment plan. The court had suggested that the sequence should be reversed, so that each district would be represented by a single senator from 1983 to 1985.

The Commission submitted a revised plan that provided for the election of a senator in the district with no incumbent, in 1982, but it also substantially redrew the boundaries for the other senate district and five additional districts in the vicinity. On review, the Colorado Supreme Court found that the new districts were not as compact as possible, nor did they preserve communities of interest where possible, and thus the plan was in violation of constitutional reapportionment criteria. The court ordered the Commission to submit the original court-approved plan with the sequence of elections originally suggested.


Logan, et al. v. O’Neill, et al., 448 A. 2d 1306 (1982)

The General Assembly’s reapportionment plan for the House of Representatives was challenged on the grounds that it violated the “town integrity” principle of the state constitution because more towns were divided in revising the house districts than were necessary. Plaintiffs offered several plans, both with higher and lower population variances that reduced the number of split municipal boundaries. Whi1e the justices conceded that one of plaintiff’s plans was better with regard to the town integrity principle, they must do more than show a better plan to invalid enacted one.


No Cases


Clem v. Haber, et a1., U.S. Dist. Ct. Dismissed TCA 82-0933 (1982)

A summary judgment was granted, leaving the congressional plan intact, following a challenge on the grounds that too many county and town boundaries had been split. Respondents introduced evidence to indicate that many of the boundary splits were the result of noncontiguous enumeration districts surrounding municipalities for which adjustments had to be made.

In Re Apportionment Law, 414 So. 2d 1040 (1982)

The legislative reapportionment statute was challenged on four grounds: 1) whether senators elected in 1980 to four-year terms were required to run for reelection in 1982 if the boundaries of the district from which they were elected had been altered by the redistricting statute; 2) whether a narrow corridor connecting segments of one district was sufficient to satisfy the contiguous requirement; 3) whether each district must be contiguous to the next consecutively numbered district; and, 4) whether some of the districts had been gerrymandered to the detriment of minority voters. The Florida Supreme Court held that senators in newly apportioned districts must run for reelection, but found no problems with the remainder of the plan.


Busbee, et al. v. Smith, et al., 549 F. Supp. 494 (1982)

The U.S. Justice Department refused to preclear the congressional reapportionment plan, because it had determined that Georgia’s 5th district was drawn with the intent of diluting minority voting strength. The state asked the federal court for a declaratory judgment that the plan did not violate the Voting Rights Act. The court agreed with the Justice Department holding that the two districts had been drawn in such a way as to minimize the influence of black voters, and denied the request. The court ordered the submission of a revised plan.


Travis, et al. v. King, et al., 552 F. Supp. 554 (1982)

Plaintiffs challenged both the congressional and 1egislative reapportionment plans alleging the use of a registered voter population base formula rather than a population base which was contested. The federal court struck down both plans holding that the Reapportionment Commission failed to properly calculate a permissible population base. Thus, the plans violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Special masters were appointed, and the court adopted a plan for the 1982 elections. The Reapportionment Commission prepared a second plan, which the district court approved for the 1984 elections.


Heller v. Cenarrusa (I), 664 P. 2d 765 (1983)

The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a district court’s declaratory order that a state constitutional provision prohibiting the division of county boundaries was not necessarily invalidated by the “one person, one-vote” mandate of the U.S. Constitution. The court indicated that the 1egislative redistricting scheme appeared to viol ate the state constitutional provision prohibiting the division of counties in creating legislative districts. The court remanded the case to permit further proceedings as provided in the district court’s order and also to permit defendants to present further evidence on the constitutionality of the reapportionment plan. The district court had provided that if the next legislature did not pass a constitutional legislative redistricting law by a set date and provide for a special election under it, the court would develop a plan.

Heller v. Cenarrusa (II), 682 P. 2d 524 (1984)

On remand, the district court held the 1egislative reapportionment plan unconstitutional because it split county boundaries. Since the legislature had failed to enact a new plan, the district court entered a plan. The court, however, declined to order a special election deciding to permit the present legislature to sit and enjoined future elections except under the court plan. On appeal, the Idaho Supreme Court was asked to decide whether: 1) the district court erred in holding the legislative plan unconstitutional; and, 2) if unconstitutional whether the legislature could sit “defacto” or if it must be enjoined from sitting pending election of a new 1egislature.

The Idaho Supreme Court upheld the district court’s plan indicating that it complied with both state and federal constitutional requirements and that the population variance of 9.65% was “well within tolerable limits.” Defendants challenged the district court’s use of the aggregate method of statistical analysis to arrive at 9.65% and contended the component method, which would have yielded a population deviation of 41.3%, should have been used. While upholding the use of the aggregate method, the Idaho Supreme Court went on to say, that if the proper method was the component method it would still pass muster under federal constitutional standards given Idaho’s constitutional mandate and particular geographic, economic and other factors. Pointing out the high costs of a special election, the resultant voter confusion and other factors, the court upheld the disallowance of the special election and allowed the legislature to sit. The court however did modify the lower court’s order providing that the 1984 elections could only be conducted under the plan. Instead, the court provided that if the legislature enacted an alternative plan that passed the court’s review then it could be used.

Hellar v. Cenarrusa, 682 P. 2d 539 (1984)

The Idaho Supreme Court reviewed and declared unconstitutional a legislative reapportionment plan enacted during the 1984 session on the grounds that: 1) a population deviation of approximately 33 percent violated federal and state equal protection clauses; and, 2) legislative districts were gerrymandered. The court ordered the 1984 elections to be conducted under the court ordered plan.


In Re: Illinois Congressional Districts Reapportionment Cases, No. BlC3915 (N.D. 111. Nov. 23, 1981)

Several challenges to Illinois’ existing congressional reapportionment were filed and consolidated after the legislature failed to pass a plan in accord with 1980 census data. The federal court was compelled to choose from among three plans submitted. The plans were assessed using the following criteria: 1) equal population as nearly as practicable for each district; 2) minority representation in accord with guarantees of equal protection and due process of law; 3) protection from dilution of minority voting strength; and, 4) political fairness by reflecting the approximate statewide strength of the two parties. The court adopted the plan which best satisfied these factors.

Rybicki, et al. v. The State Board of Elections (I), 430 N.E. 2d 483 (1982)

Illinois’ legislative redistricting plan was challenged by three sets of plaintiffs. Republicans and suburban residents alleged that the plan was invalid for noncompactness, partisan unfairness and impermissible fracturing of political subdivision lines. The federal court rejected these allegations and held that in light of the equal protection requirement and other relevant criteria, the districts were not impermissably noncompact, there was no legal basis for invalidating the plan because it fractured county boundaries, and suburban residents did not represent a class which could claim protection under the equal protection clause on the grounds that their voting strength had been impermissably diluted. Further, the court held that partisan efforts were inherent to the reapportionment process and would not, within reasonable bounds be considered to be invidious discrimination violative of constitutional rights.

The court accepted the allegation of a second group, that the plan intentionally discriminated against black voters by diluting their voting strength, and adopted modifications to the plan to correct the discrimination. The court also approved a settlement agreement designed to redress discrimination against Hispanic voters.

Rybicki, et al. v. The State Board of Elections (II), 574 F. Supp. 1147 (1983)

Following Congressional amendment of the Voting Rights Act, the federal district court reevaluated the second class of plaintiffs’ claim that the legislative redistricting plan violated the amended act. The court felt that over time the plan might lead to dilution of black votes, and requested that the Reapportionment Commission resubmit alternate boundary lines which were not purely “black-white” boundaries. The court wanted the Commission to avoid packing a disproportionate percentage of blacks in one district which could result in a dilution of the representation of blacks in the 1egislature.

Rybicki, et al. v. State Board of Elections (III), 574 F. Supp. 1161 (1983)

The federal district court reviewed the settlement agreement and found that the parties had settled their disputes. The settlement agreement was incorporated into the reapportionment plan earlier adopted by the court.


Davis v. Bandemer, 106 S. Ct. 2797 (1986)

Democrats challenged the legislative reapportionment plan claiming it was a political gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment guarantees of equal protection as well as Indiana constitutional prohibitions against treating electors unequally and dividing counties. The NAACP claimed the plan diluted minority voting strength in multimember districts and stacked

Democrats into a minority of districts, thereby diluting the voting efficiency of the Democrats. The court held that plaintiffs were entitled to redress under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. With regard to the NAACP plaintiffs, the court held that minority voting efficacy was impinged upon because of their politics–they characteristically align themselves with the Democratic party–and not because of their race. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the federal district court’s ruling that the reapportionment plan for the Indiana legislature was unconstitutional because of political gerrymandering. However, the Court for the first time established that claims of political gerrymandering can be reviewed by the federal courts.

The Supreme Court disagreed with the district court’s finding that the sole criteria–lack of proportional representation–was sufficient to prove unconstitutional discrimination. Plaintiffs had relied on the results of a single election to prove unconstitutional discrimination, which the court stated was unsatisfactory. Instead, the Court restated its previous findings that unconstitutional discrimination occurs only when the electoral system operates as a whole to consistently prevent or disadvantage effective participation by a voter or group of voters.


No cases


Bacon, et al. v. Carlin, et al., 575 F. Supp. 763 (1983) aff’d 466 US 966 (1984)

The legislative reapportionment plan drawn in 1979 was based on the 1978 state agricultural census, which was repealed 1ater that year. The statute repealing the law merely provided that federal census estimates shall be used for all purposes in the application of the statutes of the state. The Kansas Constitution is silent about any data base for reapportionment.

Plaintiffs challenged the existing plan, arguing that based on 1980 federal census data, legislative districts contained impermissively large population deviations, and the legislature should be reapportioned again. The issue decided by the court was whether the equal protection clause compelled a new reapportionment when the existing plan was based on figures less than ten years old and when enacted had not contained districts with impermissively large population deviations. The federal district court approved the use of the state census and held that the four-year-old plan based on five-year-old census figures was not so out dated as to require revision. The court did say that if reapportionment was attempted in 1989 (as the constitution requires) using 1980 federal data, serious constitutional questions would probably occur.

O’Sullivan v. Brier, 540 F. Supp. 1200 (1982)

After the Governor vetoed two plans and the legislature failed to enact a congressional apportionment plan, the existing plan was challenged, and the federal district court convened to adopt a new plan. The court in reviewing the plans offered placed great emphasis on the preservation of county and municipal boundaries in addition to the requirement of population equality. The court chose the plan, with slight modifications that preserved county boundaries better than the others, but also reunited one county which had been split into two districts through Kansas City which contains about one-third of the state’s black population. The court’s plan had a maximum population deviation of 0.338%; the last vetoed plan had 0.09%, and plaintiff’s plan had O.11%, each of which split county lines.


No cases


Couhig, et a1. v. Brown, 538 F. Supp. 1086 (1982)

Plaintiffs wanted the 1982 congressional elections conducted under the reapportionment plan used for the 1980 elections, because the plan enacted after the 1980 census was awaiting preclearance from the Justice Department. Plaintiffs alleged that the confusion and delay caused by the uncertainty as to which plan would be in effect for 1982 violated both candidates’ and voters’ rights. The federal district court dismissed the case holding that since no plan had been put into effect and no timetable for the 1982 elections had been established, the allegation that plaintiffs’ rights had been violated was speculative.

Major v. Treen, 574 F. Supp. 325 (1983)

Based on the “totality of circumstances” test under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the district court held the congressional reapportionment plan unconstitutional on the basis that it diluted minority voting strength. The court found that the act ignored parish lines and created irregularly shaped districts which separated cohesive black neighborhoods while leaving predominantly white neighborhoods intact. When combined with the historical phenomena of racially polarized voting, the factors operate to deny or minimize the role of minority voters in the electoral process.


In Re 1983 Legislative Apportionment of House, Senate and Congressional Districts, 469 A. 2d 819 (1983)

Petitioners alleged that the legislature and the Reapportionment Commission failed to comply with procedural requirements of the state and federal constitutions. In interpreting the Maine constitutional provision that the Maine Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to hear any challenge to reapportionment plans, the court held that any citizen may go to court to challenge a legislatively adopted reapportionment plan. Indicating that the court’s purpose is to review the constitutionality of the plans, the court held that the allegations of unequal funding of the two political parties represented on the Commission and failure by the Commission to comply with constitutional deadlines and hearing requirements did not fall within the scope of the proceedings. Plaintiffs also claimed that the legislative reapportionment plan did not contain as nearly as possible equal population districts. The court held that with regard to the senate districts with an absolute deviation of 8.15%, plaintiffs failed to establish a case of unconstitutionality insofar as the deviation was below 10% and plaintiffs did not allege any discriminatory intent. With regard to the house districts with an absolute deviation of 12.7%, the court held that the state met its burden of showing that the deviation was the result of a legitimate state policy of respecting municipal boundaries. Whi1e the court concluded that a better plan might be possible, the enacted plan satisfied constitutional requirements, and was upheld.


In Re Legislative Districting, 299 Md. 658 (1982)

Plaintiffs claimed that the legislative reapportionment plan: 1) failed to provide districts of substantially equal population; 2) violated the equal protection clause and diluted minority voting strength by utilizing multimember districts; 3) violated state constitutional requirements of compactness and due regard for natural and political boundaries; and, 4) counties were divided to protect incumbents in violation of the equal protection clause. The Maryland Court of Appeals in upholding the plan found that the construction of districts had a rational purpose and there was no evidence to support the claim of dilution of minority voting strength. The legislature also achieved its goal of having no deviation from the ideal population greater than 10%. Finally, the court indicated that such factors as geographic features and population concentrations are involved in forming districts and as a result some degree of noncompactness is unavoidable. Irregularity of district shape is not sufficient to constitute gerrymandering.


McGovern v. Connolly, No. 86-1075-C (June 11, 1986)

The Massachusetts Constitution provides for the apportionment of legislative districts based on a state census taken in “the year 1975 and every tenth year thereafter.” Plaintiffs challenged the existing plan, drawn in 1977, on three main counts: 1) the plan, when drawn in 1977 based on 1975 data, all owed a maximum population variance of as much as 20 percent between districts; 2) existing legislative districts are unconstitutional when measured against available 1985 state census figures; and, 3) population variances in existing legislative districts are unconstitutional based on 1980 federal census figures. The federal district court held plaintiffs’ second claim to be premature since reapportionment was not due to occur until January 1988, and count three to be unsound because federal census figures are not an aspect of the state’s periodic reapportionment plan. The court dismissed plaintiffs’ first claim on the doctrine of “1aches,” inexcusable delay by plaintiffs in instituting the suit and prejudice to the defendant caused by the delay. The court suggested however, that the maximum deviation of 19.9% among district populations presents a potentially viable claim of discrimination.


In Re Apportionment of State Legislature, 321 N.W. 2d 565, 413 Mich. 96 (1982)

The apportionment provision of the Michigan Constitution had been found unconstitutional, and the Michigan Supreme Court appointed special masters to devise the legislative redistricting plan. The court issued the following criteria: 1) preservation of county lines to the extent possible without population deviation of more than 16.4%; 2) preservation of city boundaries in counties containing more than one district; and, 3) compactness for cities with more than one district. One party requested a rehearing, challenging the court’s use of the 16.4% population deviation, claiming that court-ordered reapportionment plans were bound by a stricter standard of population equality than legislative plans. The court held that the stricter standard applied to plans adopted by federal courts, but not state courts. In justifying the 16.4% population deviation, the court identified preservation of county and municipal boundaries as an important legitimate state interest which warranted acceptance of the 16.4% deviation.

Agerstrand, et al. v. Austin, et al., (Cite Unavailable)

Following a gubernatoria1 veto of the congressional redistricting plan, the constitutionality of the existing congressional plan was challenged. Since all parties agreed to the unconstitutionality of the existing plan, the court was left to redistrict. In addition to the equal population requirement the court in selecting a plan, adopted three additional standards which included: 1) compactness and contiguity of districts; 2) maintenance of existing districts to the extent possible; and, 3) deference to state enacted plans. The court chose the Democratic plan and modified two districts within it, because it best maintained existing districts.

Anderson v. Oakland County Clerk, 353 N.W. 2d 448, 419 Mich. 313 (1984)

Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the legislative reapportionment act claiming that the methods used by the legislature to pass the bill violated two state constitutional provisions: 1) “No bill shall be altered or amended on its passage through either house so as to change its original purpose as determined by its total content and not alone by its title;” and, 2) No bill may be passed or become law until it has been in the possession of each house for at least five days. The Michigan Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional finding that the original bill which was a proposal to remove obsolete provisions pertaining to local elections had been changed to a proposal for reapportionment of the legislature, and thereby violated constitutional requirements by introducing entirely new and different subject-matter without the required notice. The court ordered that unless the legislature enacted another plan prior to July 1984, that nominations and elections for the state legislature were to be conducted under the plan adopted by the court in In Re Apportionment of State Legislature.


La Comb, et a1. v. Growe et a1., 541 F. Supp. 145 (1982)

The federal district court developed a congressional reapportionment plan, after the legislature failed to adopt one. The court’s plan focused on districts that were either predominantly urban or exclusively rural. Given the fact that 48.7% of Minnesota’s population lived in metropolitan areas and 51.3% lived in rural areas, the court adopted a “four-four” plan with four metropolitan districts and four rural districts. This plan respects the discordant interests of rural and urban populations.

La Comb, et al. v. Growe, et al., 541 F. Supp. 160 (1982)

The federal district court adopted a legislative reapportionment plan after the legislature failed to enact one. In addition to equal population, the court also focused on preserving the boundaries of political subdivisions where possible and communities of interest, particularly rural and metropolitan interests. After the initial district lines were drawn, the court allowed minor adjustments to preserve constituency-legislator relations and to avoid contests between incumbents.


Mississippi v. Smith, (Cite Unavailable)

The Justice Department denied preclearance of the congressional reapportionment plan because it diluted minority voting strength. The state filed suit seeking judicial preclearance. The ultimate issue was whether the state’s proposed plan violated the “nonretrogression” principle by unnecessarily diluting black voting strength. The state filed a motion asking the court to determine which of the previous congressional plans the proposed plan should be compared with to determine whether the nonretrogression principle had been satisfied. The state argued the comparison should be made with the 1972 plan, but the court rejected the argument, because the 1972 plan never gained preclearance from the Justice Department. The federal district court deferred judgment until the current plan had been compared for possible retrogression effect to an interim plan adopted by the state court.

Brooks, et al. v. Winter, et al.,  541 F. Supp. 1135 (1982)

The state congressional reapportionment plan had been denied preclearance by the Justice Department because it diluted black voting strength. A suit was brought seeking to stop the state from adopting its alternative plan and asking the federal district court to adopt an interim plan. Plaintiff’s plan created one district with a black majority of 65%. An alternative plan, considered by the legislature but never enacted created two districts with a black population over 45% but not greater than 54%. Since satisfied constitutional and Voting Rights Act requirements, the court turned to state policy criteria. The court identified a policy of establishing two districts with a black population over 40%. Plaintiffs claimed the policy had the effect of diluting black voting strength. However, the court rejected the argument and held there was no requirement to assure proportional representation. The court found the state policy legitimate, and adopted the alternative plan as the interim plan for the 1982 congressional elections.

Jordan v. Winter, 604 F. Supp. 807 (1984)

This case was on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court (461 U.S. 921, 103 S.Ct. 2077), which vacated the district court’s judgment ordering the use of an interim plan (The Simpson Plan) until the legislature could enact a valid congressional redistricting plan. The court constructed a new interim plan using the following criteria: 1) create a rural Delta River area district with a black voting age population majority; 2) achieve minimal deviation from the ideal population per congressional district of 504,128; 3) create districts containing voters with similar interests; 4) preserve the electoral base of incumbents; and, 5) comply with the legislative goal of achieving high impact districts without splintering cohesive black populations.


Shayer, et al. v. Kirkpatrick, et al., 541 F. Supp. 922 (1982)

The federal district court was asked to draw a congressional apportionment plan after the legislature failed to enact one. The court used the following three criteria: 1) population equality; 2) compact and contiguous districts; and, 3) state policies on reapportionment. The court found that the plans submitted to it as well as the legislative proposals failed to meet one or more of these criteria, and decided to formulate its own plan. The court’s plan created compact and contiguous districts with a lower population deviation. It also implemented state policies on reapportionment including not bisecting rural counties.


State v. Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission, No. 46873 August 12, 1981

The Districting and Apportionment Commission is required by law to submit its reapportionment plan to a regular session of the legislature, either that session following the appointment of the Commission or that following the availability of census figures, whichever is later. The 1981 regular session following the appointment of the Commission and the availability of census figures had adjourned. Plaintiffs sought to require the legislature to either submit a preliminary reapportionment plan for legislative consideration by November 1, 1981, or to require legislative comment on a preliminary plan by December 1, 1981. The state district court indicated that it could neither order the legislature into special session nor direct individual legislator review, but rather could only direct submission of a plan for the 1983 legislature, and denied application for the order. The court also said that it would not declare the legislature as presently constituted malapportioned because a reapportionment statute enacted in 1983 would only be ten years after the previous apportionment and not constitutionally tardy.

Manning v. Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission, Mont. Supreme Ct., No. 82-508 (April 7, 1983)

The use of a nonelected reapportionment commission to draw legislative and congressional apportionment plans was challenged. Plaintiffs asked the court to issue an injunction to prevent the plans from being filed with the Secretary of State (the plans become law upon filing), alleging that the appointed commission’s unrestricted power to enact reapportionment plans into law denied the people their right to a republican form of government. The court dismissed the case as moot because the plans had already been filed.

McBride, et a1. v. Mahoney, et al., 573 F. Supp. 913 (1983)

Plaintiffs claimed the legislative reapportionment plan with a total population deviation of 10.9% violated their equal protection rights. The federal district court found that a 10% or greater population deviation established a prima facie violation, and shifted the burden to the state to show that the deviation was caused by legitimate state objectives. The state offered the following objectives of the reapportionment commission: 1) preservation of existing governmental boundaries; 2) recognition of geographic boundaries; 3) preservation of communities of interest; 4) consideration of prior district boundaries; and, 5) an attempt to stay within a 5% plus or minus deviation from the ideal population. The court held the state objectives were legitimate, and that the commission had made a good-faith effort to balance the criteria in formulating the plan.


No cases


No cases

New Hampshire

Boyer v. Gardner, 540 F. Supp. 624 (1982)

The house reapportionment plan was challenged on the issue of population equality. The plan had an absolute population deviation of 13.74% resulting from the use of floterial districts. These districts were created because of a state constitutional requirement that no town or ward be divided by legislative district 1ines. The federal district court upheld the plan finding that the state policies of maintaining county, city and town boundaries, aggregating towns and wards with reasonably proximate boundaries into a single district, and not dividing or altering existing ward boundaries were legitimate justification for the resulting population deviation.

New Jersey

Karcher, et al. v. Dagget, et al., 462 U.S. 725 (1983)

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the congressional redistricting plan finding that an overall population range of just under .70 percent does not conform to the constitutional requirement for equal representation. The Court ruled that there are no de minimis population variations that can stand constitutional muster, and states must adhere as closely as possible to the “one-person, one-vote” standard of reapportionment. The state did not meet the burden of proving that the deviations were necessary to achieve a legitimate state goal. The legislature had argued that the population deviations were necessary to protect black neighborhoods from being divided into different districts. However, the Court was not convinced that the population differences were essentia1 to preserve minority voting strength.

Daggett, et a1. v. Kimmilman, et a1., 580 F. Supp. 1259 (1984)

Following the invalidation of the congressional redistricting plan, the federal district court reconvened to adopt a valid plan. From the six proposed plans, the court adopted the one with the lowest mean deviation of .0011% on the grounds that in addition to achieving the most equal population between districts, it also created the most compact districts.

New Mexico

Sanchez, et al. v. King, et al., 550 F. Supp. 13 (1982)

The legislative reapportionment plan was challenged on the grounds that the use of a “votes cast formula” diluted minority voting strength. The numbers derived from the formula varied substantially from census figures and resulted in a maximum deviation of 94% for house districts and 83% for senate districts. The court indicated that the use of a registered voter or actual voter basis in reapportionment is permissible when it results in “a distribution of legislators not substantially different from that which would have resulted from the use of a permissible population .basis.” The court declared the plan unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to enact a new plan.

New York

Flateau v. Anderson, 537 F. Supp. 257 (1982)

Plaintiffs argued that based on 1980 census data, the existing legislative and congressional reapportionment schemes, drawn pursuant to 1970 census data, violated the “one-person, one-vote” principle. Following the conclusion of arguments, the federal district court issued an order as follows: 1) present congressional, senate and assembly districts could not be used to conduct any elections for terms beginning on or after January 1, 1983; 2) directed the state to devise and enact constitutional plans for legislative and congressional districts by April 16, 1982; and, 3) specified that special elections intended to fill vacancies in the present state legislature were not affected by the order.

Bay Ridge Community Council v. Carey, 454 NYS 2d 186 (1982)

Plaintiffs challenged the legislative reapportionment plan on three main grounds: 1) several districts violated the state constitutional provision that legislative districts be compact, contiguous and convenient; 2) the plan represents a partisan gerrymandering; and, 3) the plan represents a racial gerrymandering. The state supreme court held the districts were compact, contiguous and convenient, ruled the political gerrymandering claim was nonjusticiable, and found no standing to sue on the racial gerrymandering claim.

Mirrone v. Anderson, 717 F. 2d 743 (1983)

In response to the U.S. Justice Department’s objections to the legislative reapportionment plan, the legislature enacted a revised plan. In so doing, it split a community which had originally been entirely included in one assembly district into four separate districts. Plaintiffs challenged the revised plan on the grounds that it diluted the collective voting power of the community. The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case stating that it is well settled in the absence of invidious discrimination that there is no right to community recognition in reapportionment.

Bay Ridge Community Council v. Carey, 479 NYS 2d 746 (1984)

The revised legislative reapportionment plan was challenged on the following grounds: 1) violated the state constitutional provision of compact, contiguous and convenient districts; 2) discriminated against a political group and impaired the voting power of community voters; and, 3) violated the state constitution by splitting two counties. The New York Supreme Court found: 1) districts to be compact, contiguous and convenient; 2) no evidence of discrimination, since no political group has a constitutional guarantee to proportional representation; 3) the political gerrymandering claim nonjusticiable; and, 4) the state constitutional provision entitling each county to at least one assembly district had been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

North Carolina

Thornburg v. Gingles, 106 S. Ct. 2752, 92 L. Ed. 2d 25 (1986)

On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed and reversed in part the district court’s decision that minority voting strength had been diluted through the use of multimember districts. The Court held that five of the six multimember districts in question were invalid because the redistricting plan impaired black citizens’ ability to elect representatives of their choice. However, the Court did not find the use of multimember districts invalid per se. In reaching its decision, the Court reviewed the district court’s treatment and definition of racially polarized voting and the legal standard used to determine racial bloc voting in the contested districts. The Court held that the district court had utilized the correct legal standards and tests in determining whether the plan violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. However, it held that the district court erred in ignoring the success of black candidates in one district during six previous elections, and revised with respect to that district.

North Dakota

No cases


Flanagan v. Gillmor, et al., 561 F. Supp. 36 (1982) aff’d 467 US.1223, 104 S. Ct. 2672 (1984)

The primary issues in this case involved dilution of minority voting strength and violation of the “one-person, one-vote” requirement. Initially, the federal district court ruled that plaintiffs failed to establish that an invidiously racial motive was responsible for the plan’s established boundaries. Following the Supreme Court’s opinion in Karcher, the court held that the state failed to meet the burden of proving that the population variances between districts were necessary to achieve some legitimate goal. The court held that when population variances can be reduced and the variances are not unavoidable, then there is an absence of good faith.


No cases


Cargo, et al. v. Paulus, et al., 635 P. 2d 367 (1982)

The Oregon Supreme Court considered two major challenges to the legislative reapportionment plan: 1) municipal boundary splits to avoid election contests between incumbents; and, 2) establishment of a senate district which would be without representation for two years. In the first instance, the court held that the state’s objective of protecting incumbents was sufficient to sustain the splitting of city boundaries, since the population deviation was within permissible limits. The court rejected the plan on the latter issue, holding that the state constitution required each senate district be represented by an identifiable senator. The court ordered the Secretary of State to draft a new plan.


Hispanic Coalition on Reapportionment v. Legislative Reapportionment Commission, et al., 536 F. Supp. 578 (1982)

Plaintiffs challenged the district boundaries of a single legislative seat contending that they were designed to dilute Hispanic voting strength. Plaintiffs failed to prove an intent to discriminate on the part of the Commission. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the federal court’s decision.

In Re Pennsylvania Congressional Districts Reapportionment Cases, 535 F. Supp. 191 (1982), 567 F. Supp. 1507 (1982)

The congressional reapportionment plan was challenged on three grounds: 1) the absolute population deviation of .399%; violated the equal population mandate; 2) dilution of minority voting strength; and, 3) county boundary splits. The court found the deviation statistically insignificant, there was no intent to discriminate, and no constitutional prohibition against splitting counties. Following their decision in Karcher, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision without comment.

In Re Reapportionment Plan for Pennsylvania General Assembly, 442 A. 2d 661 (1982)

In Pennsylvania any person may file a direct appeal to a legislative reapportionment plan to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. However, in challenging the plan, appellants must prove that the plan fails to meet constitutional requirements, and not that a better or preferable plan exist’s. Appellants argued that the Commission in an effort to achieve population equality failed to adhere to state constitutional goals that districts be compact and that no subdivision be divided unnecessarily. The court indicated that deviations from compactness and political subdivision boundaries were necessary to achieve equal population districts.

Rhode Island

Licht, et al. v. Quattrocchi, et al., 449 A. 2d 887 (1982)

The Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s invalidation of the legislative reapportionment plan on the grounds it violated the “one-person, one-vote” principle and equal population requirements, had noncompact districts and diluted minority voting strength. In a related matter, (advisory opinion to the Governor 450 A.2d 329), the court held by invalidating the reapportionment statute, it also invalidated the portion of the act repealing the 1974 redistricting plan. Thus, the 1974 plan retained the force of law.

Farnum, et al. v. Burns (I), 548 F. Supp. 1679 (1982)

Plaintiffs asked the federal district court to issue an injunction to prevent 1982 senatorial elections from being conducted under the 1974 reapportionment scheme. Defendants argued that the injunction would prevent the state from conducting the elections on time. The court held that even if carried out under the 1974 plan, the elections would not be conducted on time, and if conducted all other elections would be delayed. The court enjoined the conduct of the senate elections pending enactment of a valid plan.

Farnum, et al. v. Burns (II), 561 F. Supp. (1982)

The federal district court reconvened to adopt a senate redistricting plan. The court considered two plans, and created a plan that combined elements of, both.

South Carolina

South Carolina NAACP v. Riley, 533 F. Supp. 1178 (1982)

The case was brought upon failure by the legislature to enact a congressional reapportionment plan. The parties offered several plans for the court’s consideration. Equality of population between districts was the principal criteria used, but the court also was guided by the following considerations: 1) preservation of county lines; 2) preservation of representative-constituent relationships; 3) communities of interest; 4) compactness; and, 5) racia1 gerrymandering. The court adopted the house plan because it achieved the lowest population deviation, only divided one county, and more satisfactorily complied with the other criteria.

South Dakota

O’Connor v. Kundert, (Cite Unavailable)

The U.S. District Court held that within the legislative reapportionment plan the use of multimember districts and the dilution of voting strength that results from weighted voting in such districts did not violate the “one person, one-vote” principle. Plaintiffs had claimed that single-member district voting strength would be diluted because multimember district voters could “weight” their votes by voting for one candidate and withholding their remaining votes.


Lockert v. Crowell (I), 631 S.W. 2d 702 (1982)

The Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision, that the senate reapportionment plan was unconstitutional on the grounds that it split county boundaries, holding that the granting of a summary judgment was an improper means of disposing the case. The case was remanded, the court holding that the issue of splitting county boundaries could only be resolved by a full evidentiary hearing to the lower court.

Mader v. Crowel1, 498 F. Supp. 226 (1982)

The state senate redistricting plan was challenged on two grounds: 1) noncontiguity of two districts, because a river bisected them; and, 2) voters moved from even- to odd-numbered districts were impermissively disenfranchised. The federal district court upheld the plan on the grounds that a river, even without adequate bridges, did not amount to noncontiguity of districts, and the shift of voters was an unavoidable consequence of reapportionment.

Lockert v. Crowell (II), 656 S.W. 2d 836 (1983)

Following the court’s opinion in Lockert (I), the General Assembly enacted another senate reapportionment plan which was challenged on the grounds that it unnecessarily split county boundaries. In a separate action, plaintiffs also challenged the house plan on similar grounds. The two cases were consolidated and tried together. The Chancery Court declared both acts unconstitutional.

On appeal, upholding the lower court’s decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the senate plan had unnecessarily split county boundaries in an effort to comply with the “one-person, one-vote” mandate. The court indicated that fewer county boundary splits would still yield population deviations acceptable under federal law. With regard to the house plan, the court held that the legislature, in an effort to achieve a low percent of total deviation, had made little effort to comply with the constitutional requirement of maintaining county boundaries.

The court revised two of the lower court’s instructions to the legislature as follows: 1) keep the maximum gross deviation to 14% (rather than l0%), indicating that if the legislature proceeds in good faith and complies with federal and state constitutional requirements, the plan probably will be safe from attack; and, 2) enact a house plan that divides no more than 30 counties (rather than 25), but none can be divided more than once.

Murray v. Crowell, Civil Case No. 3-84-0566 (March 8, 1985)

In response to Lockert (II), the legislature enacted another reapportionment plan. Plaintiffs filed suit in federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment as to the constitutionality of the house plan on the grounds of whether adherence to county lines reflects a rational state policy. The federal district court found that the state supreme court had justified adherence to county lines as a rational state policy.

Lincoln County v. Crowell, 701 S.W. 2d 602 (1985)

Plaintiffs challenged the 1984 house reapportionment plan enacted in response to Lockert (II), on the grounds that it unnecessarily split two counties and alleged the districts were drawn to protect incumbents. The Chancellor Court held that one county was divided to a greater extent than necessary to meet federal constitutional requirements and declared the portions of the act dealing with the two districts unconstitutional. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed and held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the General Assembly had acted in bad faith or had deliberately gerrymandered. The court indicated the plan had been held to meet federal constitutional standards, and on its face it met the guidelines previously set forth in Lockert (II).


Seamon v. Upham (I), 536 F. Supp. 931 (1982)

Following the legislature’s failure to adopt a “legally enforceable” apportionment plan, the court adopted a congressional plan that modified four districts within the legislature’s plan to avoid any retrogression in minority voting strength.

Seamon v. Upham (II), 102 S. Ct. 1518 (1982)

On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the district court’s changes in Dallas County (to two of the four districts changed) were unnecessary. The case was remanded to the district court, which was not required to return these districts to their original form before the 1982 elections because the primaries were so close. (In 1983, the legislature adopted a congressional district plan that made changes in seven districts. Both the U.S. Attorney General and the district court accepted these modifications.)

Seaman v. Upham (III), 536 F. Supp. 1030 (1982) rehearing denied 102 S. Ct. 2001 (1982)

On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the district court held that despite its erroneous refusal to adopt as part of its court-ordered congressional apportionment plan, those congressional districts which were established by the state legislature and which were not specifically objected to by the U.S. Attorney General, the court would not modify its judgment establishing the plan and reschedule the primary elections. To delay the primary would result in substantial damage by increasing the monetary cost for candidates, political parties and the state, by producing voter confusion and by diminishing voter participation.

Terrazas, et a1. v. Clements, et a1., 537 F. Supp. 514 (1982)

Challenges to the legislative redistricting plan were not ruled on before the U.S. Attorney General objected to the plan because they fragmented minority communities, diluted minority voting strength and failed to meet the “one-person, one-vote” requirement. The federal district court adopted too many interim plans so that the primaries could be held on time. The court utilized the house plan enacted by the Legislative Redistricting Board and adopted changes in two counties from plans submitted by other parties in the suit. In the senate district plan, the court objected to proposed changes to contested districts and allowed districts in the Legislative Board plan to stand, in order to allow the elections to be held on time. The legislature was given until September 1983 to adopt acceptable permanent plans. In regular session in the Spring of 1983, the temporary court ordered plan for the house districts was adopted by the legislature as the permanent plan. Modifications were made to eight senate districts. These plans were accepted by the U.S. Attorney General and the district court.


Stephens & Brown v. State of Utah, Civil No. 80940 (1982) 2nd Judicial District

The senate reapportionment plan contained a holdover provision allowing senators in certain districts to serve out their four-year terms and stand for election in 1984. Plaintiffs challenged the holdover provision because the reapportionment plan placed them in a new district where they would be represented until 1984 by a senator in whose election they never participated in. The district court held the provision did not violate the equal protection clause, and dismissed the case.

Peck v. Monson, 652 P. 2d 1325 (1982)

After the filing deadline had passed, a Democratic nominee for the Utah House of Representatives discovered that she was not a resident of the district, in which she had filed. The Democratic Central Committee submitted certification of a replacement candidate. The Secretary of State/Lt. Governor refused to accept the new candidate arguing that the statute providing for replacement candidates applied only if the disqualification of the first candidate occurred before the filing deadline. The court held that the statute was not limited in such a way and that the Secretary of State was obligated to accept a duly certified replacement candidate.


No cases


Cosner v. Dalton, 522 F. Supp. 350 (1982)

The major issues involved in the case challenging the house legislative redistricting plan included: 1) population inequity among election districts; 2) dilution of minority voting strength; and, 3) lack of compact and contiguous districts. The court held the plan invalid on its face because of a population deviation over 26% which could not be justified by the state’s policy of preserving political subdivision boundaries. However, the court held that plaintiffs failed to show that the plan was racially discriminatory. The court ordered that the act be kept in effect so the November 1981 elections could proceed on time, but ordered the legislature to draw a new plan for elections in 1982.

Cosner v. Robb, 541 F. Supp. 613 (1982)

Following objection by the U.S. Attorney General to the legislative plan enacted after Cosner v. Dalton, the Governor called a special session and limited its consideration to the objected portions of the plan. The legislature adopted a joint resolution to the same effect. Plaintiffs claimed the governor’s and legislature’s actions violated the state constitution’s separation of powers provision, and the limitation of scope violated the equal protection clause. In addition, they alleged that many of the districts did not conform to the state constitutional requirements of compactness and contiguity. The federal district court upheld the legislature’s and governor’s actions, and declined to accept jurisdiction over the compactness and contiguity complaint.

Cline v. Robb, 548 F. Supp. 128 (1982)

A second suit filed against the legislative plan enacted after Cosner v. Dalton alleged that some districts failed to conform to compactness and contiguity requirements and that division of county boundaries diluted the voting strength of county residents. As a result, plaintiffs claimed the plan violated the equal protection clause. The court held that the division of county boundaries did not establish a violation of the equal protection clause, but it declined to accept jurisdiction over the compactness and contiguity complaint.


Doph v. Munro, C82-233T (1982)

The congressional reapportionment plan which had an overall deviation of 1.38% was challenged on the grounds that it violated population equality requirements. The federal district court ruled the plan unconstitutional, indicating that the legislature failed to show that the variance was unavoidable. The legislature was ordered to adopt a new plan within 90 days after the start of the 1983 session.

West Virginia

Moses v. Rockefeller, Civil Action No. 82-2044 (March 25, 1982)

Plaintiffs challenged the existing (1972) legislative reapportionment plan on the grounds it violated population equality requirements, and asked the federal district court to develop a plan because the legislature had failed to do so. However, before the case was heard, the legislature enacted a plan, which the court accepted as constitutional.


State AFL-CIO v. Elections Board, 543 F. Supp. 630 (1982)

The U.S. District Court established a legislative apportionment plan following the legislature’s failure to do so, with the following components: 1) no districts varied from ideal population norm by more than .87%; 2) fair representation for racial and ethnic minority populations; and, 3) maintenance of county and municipal boundaries. The court rejected the legislature’s plan which had been vetoed by the governor, as well as several plans submitted to it, for failure to achieve one or more of the above criteria.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO v. Elections Board, Civil Action No. 82-C-0045 (1982)

The case was brought upon failure by the legislature to pass a congressional reapportionment bill. The federal district court held that the congressional districts established by the legislature in 1977 were unconstitutional due to population changes and could not be used for the 1982 elections. The court ordered parties to the suit to file proposed plans by March 8, 1982. The legislature subsequently passed a congressional reapportionment bill which was signed into law by the governor on March 30, 1982.

Republican Party of Wisconsin v. Elections Board, 585 F. Supp. 603 (1984)

Following the court’s establishment of a legislative reapportionment plan in 1982, the legislature in special session in 1983 enacted its own plan. The plan was challenged on two grounds: 1) noncompact and noncontiguous boundaries; and, 2) disenfranchisement of 173,976 voters. The federal district court held that the plan was unconstitutional only on the grounds that it unnecessarily disenfranchised voters. Under the plan, 145,026 residents were in districts that last voted for a state senator in 1980, and 28,950 residents resided in senate districts that last voted for a state senator in 1978. Under the plan, all 173,976 residents would be ineligible to vote for a state senator until 1986. The court indicated that due to the complexities of reapportionment temporary disenfranchisement of citizens has been tolerated. A temporary disenfranchisement had occurred under the court ordered plan due to the staggered term structure used by the Wisconsin Senate. However, the court plan had become fully implemented after the November 1982 elections, and no further disenfranchisement would occur under it. The federal court held that since the 1982 court plan was constitutional and the 1983 legislative plan was unnecessary to correct an unconstitutional situation, the disenfranchisement that would occur under the legislative plan was unnecessary.

Wisconsin Elections Board v. Republican Party of Wisconsin, 105 S. Ct. 75 (1984)

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the district court’s order which declared the July 1983 legislative redistricting plan unconstitutional. While the Court’s order did not touch upon the merits of the case, it had the effect of allowing the legislatively adopted plan to stand for use in the November 1984 legislative elections.

Wisconsin Elections Board v. Republican Party of Wisconsin, 105 S. Ct. 582 (1984)

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the district court to dismiss the complaint against the legislatively enacted reapportionment plan.


Brown v. Thomson, 536 F. Supp. 780 (1982) aff’d 103 S.Ct. 2690 (1983)

The legislature formulated house districts by following the state constitutional requirement of allocating at least one representative per county. The plan established 64 house districts, and resulted in an average population deviation of 16% and a maximum deviation of 89%. Plaintiffs limited their challenge to the state’s policy of granting a representative to each county in light of the legislature granting a representative to a county in which the population was less than half the ideal. Plaintiffs questioned whether the state’s policy of preserving county boundaries justified the additional deviation that resulted from granting a representative to the county. They did not challenge the constitutionality of the 16% average deviation and the 89% maximum deviation. The federal district court upheld the plan, and the U.S. Supreme Court held that the state’s policy was rational and even “well-suited to the special needs” of the sparsely populated state.

About This NCSL Project

Reapportionment Update, A Summary of 1980 Legislative and Congressional Litigation

Prepared by the National Conference of State Legislatures, April, 1987

The report summarizes congressional and legislative litigation resulting from the 1980 reapportionment process. The major issues and resulting judicial decisions and/or outcomes have been provided for each case. Case cites, where available, have been provided to enable readers to locate cases of particular interest.

Information for the report was obtained through the assistance of reapportionment staff contacts in each of the 50 states, as well as members of the National Conference of State Legislature’s Reapportionment Subcommittee. Case summaries were reviewed by the state contacts and subcommittee members for accuracy and completeness. NCSL wishes to thank all of these individuals for their important contributions to the report.

This is the final report in the Reapportionment Information Update series on 1980 reapportionment activity in the states. NCSL will begin to publish the Reapportionment Information Update again as states begin reapportionment following the 1990 census.

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