Lindsey v. Normet

LOCATION: Georgia State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 70-5045
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 405 US 56 (1972)
ARGUED: Nov 15, 1971
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1972

John H. Clough -
Theodore B. Jensen -

Facts of the case


Media for Lindsey v. Normet

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 15, 1971 in Lindsey v. Normet

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in number 5045, Lindsey against Normet.

Mr. Clough.

John H. Clough:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is an appeal from a three-judge court’s denial of injunctive and declaratory relief, sought by Donald and Edna Lindsey on behalf of themselves and the class of appellants, including all tenants in the State of Oregon.

The Lindsey’s attack to constitutionality of Oregon’s Eviction Law, seeking to enjoin its enforcement of it is objectionable provisions by appellee judges.

The Lindseys had been having difficulties in getting there landlord, appellee Normet to repair the condition of their home which condition included lack of plaster, downstairs toilet out of order, missing rear steps, etcetera.

Since pictures are better than words, we specifically refer the Court to the color photographs in evidence marked as plaintiff’s exhibits number 25 to 37 in the record.

On November 10 --

Potter Stewart:

Those photographs are in the appendix?M

John H. Clough:

No, they are not.

They were unable to print them because they were color photographs, Your Honor.

On November 10, 1969, their home had been condemned by the Bureau of Building Inspections of the City of Portland because of the violation of Portland’s Housing and Building Codes.

Since Donald Lindsey was substantially confined to a wheelchair with crippling arthritis of both arms and legs and neither he nor his wife could drive a car, they did not have the mobility to search for another home.

Furthermore, their search would have been rendered more difficult by the factor that the overall vacancy rate for Portland was less than 2% and for low income families less than 1%.

Warren E. Burger:

Would your case be any different if this was a 25-year-old professional football player in the peak of physical condition and health?

John H. Clough:

In some respects it might and some respects it might not.

There are some aspects of the case.

Warren E. Burger:


John H. Clough:

Yes, some aspects of the case would make a difference because of the indigency and ability to search for a home.

Although, constitutionally –-

Warren E. Burger:

Let us make him an unemployed professional football player that is indigent, then it would --

John H. Clough:

Constitutionally, it would make no difference.

Low-income housing is that which has rents within the financial reach of a typical family of four whose income is from $0-4,000.00 a year.

In Portland, an estimated 75% of low income families rent, but Lindsey’s home was a low-income home.

Most housing available for low-income families is quite often substandard and the condition is generally very poor in Portland.

Low-income people pay a higher portion of their monthly income for rent and generally pay higher utility in heating bills because of deficiencies in plumbing, insulation and wiring.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. Clough, is always general material in the record?

John H. Clough:

Yes, it is Your Honor.

The last statement, Mr. Justice Blackmun was in the deposition of Josephine Brown, our expert which is admitted into evidence and as plaintiff's exhibit number 24 at page 26.

Low-income people generally have a difficult time finding a place because of the advance month’s rent for cleaning deposits often required.