Burns v. Richardson

RESPONDENT: Richardson
LOCATION: United States Department of Justice

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 73 (1966)
ARGUED: Feb 21, 1966
DECIDED: Apr 25, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Burns v. Richardson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 21, 1966 in Burns v. Richardson

Earl Warren:

Numbers 318, John A. Burns, Governor of the State of Hawaii, appellant, versus William S. Richardson et al., Number 323, Elmer F. Cravalho, et al., appellants, versus William S. Richardson, et al., and Number 409, Kazuhisa Abe et al., Appellants, versus William S. Richardson, et al.

Mr. Kanbara.

Bertram T. Kanbara:

May it please the Court.

Before proceeding into the statement of the case and my arguments, I think it'll be helpful that I present a brief background discussion as to the geography of the State of Hawaii and as to the constitutional provisions with respect to the apportionment of the state legislature.

I invite the attention of the Court what we have here, the State of Hawaii consists of essentially of four major islands; the Island of Hawaii, the Island of Maui, the Island of Oahu, and the Island of Kauai.

These four major islands also constitute the basis of our four county governments.

Thus, the Island of Hawaii constitutes the county of Hawaii, the Island of Maui with its centralized islands of Molokai and Lanai constitutes Maui County, the Island of Hawaii and its neighboring Island of Ni’ihau constitutes the counties of Kauai.

The Island of Oahu which is officially designated as the City and County of Honolulu, after the capital city in the nearby islands.

We will be variously referring to the Island of Oahu as the city and county of Honolulu or the Island of Oahu.

I might also mention that the Island -- counties of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai will variously be referred to collectively as the outside islands or this neighbor islands.

The 1960 population of the State was in round figures 600,000.

The registered voter population was about a third of that.

Earl Warren:

That is third of that did you say?

Bertram T. Kanbara:

Yes, Your Honor, approximately 200,000.

Earl Warren:


Bertram T. Kanbara:

The City and County of Honolulu contained roughly 500,000 of the people thus constituting -- thus having roughly 80% of the population of living on that island.

Proceeding now to the apportionment provision of the Constitution, the State Constitution prescribes a setup of --

Earl Warren:

I wonder -- I wonder if before that you could tell us about what populations are on the other islands, the other counties, please.

Bertram T. Kanbara:

Yes, Your Honor.

The County of Hawaii has a population of 60,000, the County of Maui, 42,000, and the County of Kauai, 28,000.

The Constitution prescribed the Senate of 25 members apportioned among six districts.

It is apportioned on a basis of geography rather than population and suffice it to say that all parties agree that the Senate is indisputably malapportioned under the decisions of this Court.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

What are the distances Mr. Kanbara?

Bertram T. Kanbara:

The six districts are --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I want the distances of that.

Bertram T. Kanbara:

Oh, the distances.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Between the island.

Bertram T. Kanbara:

Roughly around 200 miles of there about, Your Honor.

Under the Senate, these outside islands with 20% of the population elect 60% of the Senators.

Our House, the Constitution prescribed 51 representatives to be apportioned among 18 districts.