RESPONDENT: City of Tuscaloosa
LOCATION: Monroe County Courthouse
DOCKET NO.: 77-515
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
CITATION: 439 US 60 (1978)
ARGUED: Oct 11, 1978
DECIDED: Nov 28, 1978
Edward Still - for appellants
J. Wagner Finnell - for appellees
Facts of the case
Media for Holt Civic Club v. City of TuscaloosaAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 11, 1978 in Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 28, 1978 in Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in Holt Civic Club and others against the City of Tuscaloosa will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.
William H. Rehnquist:
Holt, Alabama is a rural unincorporated community located just outside the corporate limits of Tuscaloosa, Alabama but within Tuscaloosa's three-mile police jurisdiction.
Residents of Holt and an incorporated civic association brought this suit alleging that Alabama statutes subjecting police jurisdiction residents to Tuscaloosa's police and sanitary regulations to the criminal jurisdiction of Tuscaloosa's court and to the city's power to license businesses without also extending to police jurisdiction residents the right to vote in municipal elections violated their rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution.
A three-judge District Court for the Northern District of Alabama concluded the Alabama statutes were not unconstitutional and granted appellee's motion to dismiss.
In an opinion filed today with the clerk we affirm the judgment of the District Court because Alabama's police jurisdiction statutes have stated application.
The three-judge District Court had jurisdiction to consider appellant's constitutional claims.
On the merits, this Court's decisions have uniformly recognized that a government unit may legitimately restrict the right to participate in its political processes to those who reside within its borders.
Residents of Tuscaloosa's police jurisdiction do not reside within the city's corporate limits and therefore have no right to vote in municipal elections.
Appellants are therefore not entitled to invoke the strict scrutiny standard which has been held to be applicable in previous voting rights decisions of this Court.
They are however like any other litigant entitled to claim that Alabama statute permitting Tuscaloosa to enforce some of its ordinances within the police jurisdiction denies them the equal protection of the laws secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States constitution.
We conclude however that Alabama's police jurisdiction statutes are rationally related to the state's interest in affording municipalities some measure of control over activities conducted just beyond their corporate limits and ensuring that police jurisdiction residents do not go without basic municipal services such as police, fire, and health protection.
Alabama statute here challenge does not therefore deny appellants the equal protection of the laws because it does not do so appellants likewise state no separate claim under Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they are denied the franchise.
Mr. Justice Stevens while joining the opinion of the Court has filed a concurring opinion.
Mr. Justice Brennan joined by Mr. Justice White and Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.