Abate v. Mundt

LOCATION: Barbara James' apartment

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 403 US 182 (1971)
ARGUED: Nov 19, 1970
DECIDED: Jun 07, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Abate v. Mundt

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 19, 1970 in Abate v. Mundt

Warren E. Burger:

-- in number 71, Abate against Mundt.

Mr. Barone, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Frank P. Barone:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Rockland County is located in the New York City Metropolitan area approximately 30 miles from New York City.

Until a decade ago, it was a very small suburban community that is until the development of the New York State through it where upon it experienced rapid if not phenomenal growth.

It consists of five towns and has been traditionally governed by five men board of supervisors, each supervisor being elected by one of the towns comprising the copy without regard to population.

In 1964, this Court rendered a historic decision in the case of Reynolds against Sims.

And in 1965, a resident of Rockland County commenced an action in the New York State Supreme Court to compel the Rockland County Board of Supervisors to reapportion themselves in a manner more consistent with that decision.

The New York State Supreme Court referred that matter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

And as a result, in 1966, the board of supervisors of the County of Rockland were directed to reapportion the County of Rockland in accordance with the mandates of this Court and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The District Court further directed that a plan of reapportionment be placed upon the ballot for the general election of November 1966 for referendum.

This plan was rejected as were two subsequent plans.

In 1968, a taxpayer’s action was commenced by Samuel J. Abate, one of the petitioners herein, to have the County of Rockland reapportion itself in accordance with the constitutional mandates of this Honorable Court.

After several motions and hearings, the respondents herein were directed to serve an answer.

The respondent simultaneously moved in the New York State Supreme Court for summary judgment requesting that the court direct implementation of a local law providing for weighted voting without referendum.

The plan for weighted voting was rejected by the court and the respondents herein were directed to present to the court a proposed plan of reapportionment with all deliberate speed.

The board of supervisors had previous this point appointed a sub-committee of the charter commission and the charter commission -- the sub-committee of the charter commission recommended to the board a single-member district plan which was rejected by the board.

The board subsequently had recommended to it a multi-member district plan by the sub-committee of the charter commission and that multi-member district plan was presented to the court.

The petitioners herein objected to the proposed multi-member district on several grounds and further sought to submit for the court’s approval.

A single-member district plan which was considered to be more in keeping with the decisions of this Honorable Court, such presentation was not committed by the New York State Supreme Court and the court approved the multi-member district plan submitted by the board of supervisors to respondents herein.

Appeals were taken to the Appellate Division in the Second Department in the State of New York and the decision of the lower court was affirmed with the dissent by the late Justice Beldock.

A subsequent appeal was taken to the New York States Court of Appeals where again the lower courts decision was affirmed with the dissent by Chief Judge Fuld.

Subsequently, permission for certiorari was granted by this Honorable Court.

There are there petitioners in this proceeding and by special permission of this Court, all three have been granted permission to appear today and orally argue this course.

I should like to tell the Court that there will be no repetition of argument by counsel in order to save the time of this Court.

We sincerely believe that this is the only fashion in which this matter could be properly laid before this Court.

I have been chosen to make the opening statement and so I give you some of the history of this matter and will also outline for you some of the arguments that counsel will make.

Counsel will argue that the multi-member district plan does not meet the requirements of equal representation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of United States as such requirements have been mandated by this Court.

Counsel will show that the respondents have failed to make the good-faith effort which is required that a multi-member district plan is unconstitutional if its district lines are static but its population is subject to change.

That a single-member district plan does not meet the requirements of the one man, one vote doctrine.