Dusch v. Davis

PETITIONER: Frank A. Dusch
RESPONDENT: J. E. Clayton Davis
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division

DOCKET NO.: 724
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 387 US 112 (1967)
ARGUED: Apr 18, 1967
DECIDED: May 22, 1967

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Dusch v. Davis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 18, 1967 in Dusch v. Davis

Earl Warren:

Number 724, Frank A. Dusch et al, Appellants, versus J.E. Clayton Davis et al.

Mr. Frazier.

Harry Frazier, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is the case involving the City Council of the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia wherein the appellants are the members of the City Council.

The appellees are voters within the city.

This case presents three questions, two of which we think can be disposed of promptly so that we may concentrate primarily on the third one.

The first question, and this was put to us by the Court, was whether a three-judge court should have been convened below to hear this case in the first instance.

The plan of representation with which we are concerned here today applies only to the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

It was adopted by a special Act of the legislature.

There is none like it in the city.

The Solicitor General agrees with us that we are properly before the Court because under prior decisions of this Court, a city charter of this nature does not present the matter of statewide interest, the state statute for the purpose of a three-judge jurisdiction.

We understand that the appellees do not contest position.

And while we understand of course that jurisdiction of this Court cannot be conferred by consent, we feel the matter is now so clear that jurisdiction is proper, that unless the Court wishes me to pursue it, we think we can accomplish more by moving on.

The second question presented on this appeal is whether one man, one vote applies below the level of state legislatures.

We believe the Court should not extend this principle for the reason stated in our brief.

The question has been fully argued in the three proceeding cases.

We have nothing new to add to that argument.

In the brief time available, we wished to cover new arguments, matters that are peculiar to this case and are not involved in the other case.

Our principal argument therefore is that, while we do not believe the Seventh -- the one man, one vote doctrine should be extended to local government even if it is extended to local government, the Seven-Four Plan of the City of Virginia Beach is a valid plan of representation.

This brings us to the third and vital question in our case.

We say at the outset, Seven-Four Plan does accord with the Reynolds case and the mandate of one man, one vote.

Now what is the Seven-Four Plan?

The Solicitor General indicated to you quite properly that this is a plan of at large election of seven councilmen for the City of Virginia Beach.

Four are elected without residential requirement.

They may reside anywhere in the city.

The seven others are elected with a residential requirement, one being required to reside in each of seven boroughs of the city.

The seven boroughs are of disproportionate population ranging from -- according to the 1960 census, 700 and some persons in the smallest to approximately 29,000 persons in the largest.

Now, we say the plan affords every voter in the city an opportunity to vote for 11 councilman, all of the council.

The residential requirement does not destroy the fact that each councilman is the city’s councilman and not a councilman merely of the borough in which he resides.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

How was that set up on the ballot?