Hunter v. Erickson

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Somerset County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 393 US 385 (1969)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1968
DECIDED: Jan 20, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Hunter v. Erickson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1968 in Hunter v. Erickson

Earl Warren:

Number 63, Nellie Hunter, appellant versus Edward O. Erickson, Mayor of the City of Akron, et al.

Mr. Carter.

Robert L. Carter:

If the Court please.

This case is here on appeal from the judgment of the State of Ohio which construed as consistent with the Constitution of the United States a charter amendment to the City of Akron.

The amendment is number 137 and then set out at page 37 of our record.

And this charter amendment requires that before any legislation designed to regulate housing, real property on the basis of race is enacted that it has to be approved by majority of the electorate.

Moreover, it asserts that any legislation which had been adopted with this making this regulation would cease to be effective until approved by the majority of the electorate.

The -- we contend that Section 137 is inconsistent with the Fourteenth Amendment requirements and must fall.

The facts are not in dispute and are reasonably uncomplicated.

In July of 1964, the City Council of Akron enacted a fair housing ordinance.

It made findings of fact that it had certain of its citizens were required to live in segregated conditions and under unhealthy and unsanitary and unsafe conditions because of housing discrimination.

And these kinds of discrimination produced various social evils which were addressed to the health and well-being of the city.

It therefore established the Commission with power to investigate on complaints of housing discrimination and to make findings and to order compliance with the relief of the discrimination.

It also directed the city -- the director of -- the law director of the city to take appropriate action when the order of the Commission was not followed.

All housing was covered by this.

All housing that was intended as residential housing was covered by this ordinance.

The -- on August the 23rd, petitions were filed pursuant to in the initiation process which is provided by the city charter and pursuant to that, a sufficient number of signatures were secured and the petition 137 went on the ballot.

It was voted upon at the November 23, 1964 Election and it was adopted by majority of citizens.

Earl Warren:

What number of signatures were required for it, initially?

Robert L. Carter:

It's 7% of the electorate vote so that it varies from time to time but in any event, the City Council indicated that the requisite number of signatures had been secured and placed it on the ballot.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Was there a large number of votes Mr. Carter in election itself?

Robert L. Carter:

In the election itself, I think that there were about 100,000 votes.

The --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

What proportion is that on?

Robert L. Carter:

With that I don't know.

I know that the charter was adopted by a vote of something like 69,000 to 44,000.

In January of 1965, the appellant filed a complaint, made a complaint of housing discrimination and requested the Commission which had been set up pursuant under this ordinance to act.

The Commission refused to act and she then went to the law director.

The law director refused to act and these proceedings therefore commenced.

After those, some various procedural problems involved and they were cleared away which I don't think it's germane to this -- to the argument of this appeal and then the matter was defended and pressed on the merits and on the merits, the city defended and said that the ordinance was no longer active because of the -- this amendment Section 137 which I have indicated.