Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15 Page 14

Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15 general information

Media for Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1969 in Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15

John P. Jehu:

Now, the other thing is, it doesn't cost him a penny from the real property tax which is the only thing -- the direct taxation that he can vote on.

He can vote on how much the district gets or how much federal aid.

That is taken care of by his use of the ballot, by electing state and federal legislators who will determine that for him.

There, he has a full ballot.

Thurgood Marshall:

But if he was a bachelor and a pauper but a tenant he could vote?

John P. Jehu:

He could vote, absolutely.

Thurgood Marshall:

Now, what interest does that in anyone?

John P. Jehu:

Well, they --

Thurgood Marshall:

This bachelor who's broke and just happened to be a tenant --

John P. Jehu:

Right.

Thurgood Marshall:

Now, what interest does he have?

John P. Jehu:

Well, the question really Your Honor is this.

In the first place, do we have to meet a test such as we had in the Cardona case?

Now, in Cardona, we have this Mrs. Cardona who was disfranchised by the statute and she could not in any way do anything about it because being disfranchised you have no access to the franchise to change that statute.

Here on the other hand, we have a person who is not disfranchised on state legislation.

If he wants to change that 2012, he can go and vote for people who will go and change it.

And I might say in this connection, while this lawsuit was going on, as a matter of fact, some of the things that were criticized below have been amended.

The spouse of the tenant which Judge Weinstein said should not be excluded and I think Judge Hayes have long since been put in by the legislature and that the statement was made, there are so few of these people that the legislative processes will not be adequate.

And at the same time, it was done and we have, as I point out on our supplemental brief there is now a constitutional amendment again before the state legislature to eliminate all these special things but the purpose of it and this is to answer your question Mr. Justice Marshall.

In order for the legislature to make sure that this extremely important business of elementary and secondary education is properly determined under local basis where it has to be determined under state law.

He must make sure that those people who get the franchise on that are those people who can reasonably be expected to be interested enough in it, to spend the considerable amount of time necessary to really inform yourself on these very complicated questions.

Earl Warren:

Let me ask you this question.

Let me ask you this question, suppose the appellant in this case was a school teacher instead of a stock broker and he was boarding in a home, would you presume to say that he had no interest in the public school's sufficient to enable him to be a voter?

John P. Jehu:

May I make two answers to that Your Honor.

One is the mere fact that he's interested and knowledgeable for all know, he may have written all the books in education but the legislature cannot anticipate when they make this rule that those persons who are not in the category, that were the two categories we're talking about, will have naturally and foreseeably the kind of interest which will guarantee a reasonable decision on school matters.

Earl Warren:

Well, let me ask you just one more question along that line.

A school teacher or any other person not being a real property taxpayer who is retired and living with one of his children, maybe he's had a large family and has reared them and put them through the public schools, paid all their expenses and they now have grandchildren and he is living with one of those children.

Do you say that that person would not have sufficient interest in the public school system of his district to vote?

John P. Jehu:

I would say Your Honor that they're properly excluded here because the parents themselves is the -- if they have the children, the people you're talking about whose grandchildren do have the franchise but the interest of these other people is purely theoretical just like I have a tremendous interest in good education in Mississippi right now.

Earl Warren:

No, I'm talking about this specific case.