Coleman v. Miller Case Brief

Facts of the Case

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.


“(1) Does taking of handwriting exemplars violate the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination?(2) Are in-court identifications unconstitutional if there was no determination of whether they were influenced by an illegal lineup procedure?”


“In an opinion by Chief Justice Hughes, the Court held that the Kansas legislators had standing to sue, but found that two of the plaintiffs’ claims raised political questions that could only be resolved by Congress. With respect to the whether the Kansas legislature’s previous rejection of the Child Labor Amendment precluded its subsequent ratification, the Court stated that this “should be regarded as a political question pertaining to the political departments, with the ultimate authority in the Congress in the exercise of its control over the promulgation of the amendment.”In his concurrence, Justice Black (joined by Justices Frankfurter, Roberts, and Douglas) suggested that the Court had not gone far enough in denying judicial power to resolve Article V controversies. Black believed that all Article V questions should be considered political and not judiciable.Justices Butler and McReynolds dissented. They argued that the Child Labor Amendment proposal had expired.”

Case Information

Citation: 307 US 433 (1939)
Argued: Oct 11, 1938