Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes

PETITIONER: Maryland Committee for Fair Representation
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 377 US 656 (1964)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1963 / Nov 14, 1963
DECIDED: Jun 15, 1964

Archibald Cox - Solicitor General, for the United States as amicus curiae
Alfred L. Scanlan, Jr. - for the appellants
Robert S. Bourbon - for the appellees
Theodore I. Botter - as amicus curiae

Facts of the case

Under its 1867 Constitution, the State of Maryland's Senate has 29 seats, one for each of 23 counties and six for the City of Baltimore's legislative districts. The State's five most populous political subdivisions with over three-fourths of the 1960 population are represented by only slightly over one-third of the Senate's membership. In the House of Delegates, after temporary legislation in 1962, there existed a maximum population-variance ratio of almost 6-to-1. A group of residents, taxpayers, and voters brought suit, alleging that the legislative malapportionment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ultimately, the circuit court held that as to certain counties there was invidious discrimination in the apportionment of the House and that the senatorial apportionment was constitutional. The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed.


Does Maryland's apportionment scheme violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by mandating one senator per county and legislative district of Baltimore, regardless of population variances?

Media for Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1963 (Part 1) in Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1963 (Part 2) in Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1963 in Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes

Earl Warren:

Number 29, The Maryland Committee for Fair Representation et al. versus J. Millard Tawes Governor.

Mr. Attorney General:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Following in the wake of the bevy of appeals and cross-appeals of the Alabama reapportion, the litigation as produced, I feel constrained to say with respect to the Maryland case, is just one single set of appellants and one single set of appellee.

I think by learning (Inaudible), the Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General would agree on that proposition, I believe.

I want to say this though, although I wasn't always able to identify the appellants or the appellees, or the cross-appellee or the cross-appellants in the Alabama case, I did find in the remarks that some of their attorney, principally Mr. Morgan, Mr. Band and especially Mr. McConnell, a statement of the views that we think are controlling for the Maryland case and indeed for all the cases now to bar this Court.

I especially thought that Mr. McConnell in his response to the inquiry put to him by Justice Harlan concerning the controlling force of the -- of Gray versus Sanders, he didn't go so far as to say that he thought that case to control the Alabama case and the other reapportion cases now being considered by this Court.

But it did say, I believe, and certainly I agree with him, that the principal enunciated there should be determinative of the litigation now before this Court.


Mr. Attorney General:

I think the Court disclaimed the consequences saying in that case that they were ruling on the principles involved in the reapportioned cases, (Inaudible) of course the Court decided only the litigation in the case of controversy before it, but I say in the principle that was enunciated in Gray v. Sanders when applied to the reapportionment case, and the Maryland case, and the other cases before the bar, in the end should be controlled.

Before I plunge into that argument, I think in view of the rather long course of this litigation has taken in reaching this Court, perhaps it's your procedural history of it that might be helpful.

I think the two questions presented in our view are one.

The question of whether the residents, the eligible voters, the taxpayers, of the five most popular subdivisions of Maryland are being denied at equal protection of the laws as a result of the representation now accorded in the Maryland State Senate.

The second question that I think is presented here is whether those same voters residing in those same areas are being denied equal protection as a result of their representation in the General Assembly considered as a whole body.

The case began with a bill of complaint filed by taxpayers and citizens of those five most popular subdivisions, and they are the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, Prince George's County, Montgomery and the City of Baltimore.

The defendants, of course, were the election officials of state who would be called upon to put in operation the mechanism that governed the election for Senators and members of our House of Delegates.

The bill of complaint sought basically declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that the representation provided in the Senate and in the House of Delegates and in the General Assembly as a whole, have violated certain provisions of the State Constitution and certain provisions of the Federal Constitution, mainly Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

These state issues are no longer in the case.

The court below in effect decided those against this, and all pertinent rulings of the court below, both in the prior case and the case that is now appealed here, rests on federal grounds Fourteenth Amendment decisions.

There originally was a demurrer, of course, in this bill of complaint of Baker v. Carr had not yet to come down, and it was still thought by the Chancellor that Colegrove v. Green was determinative.

After the demurrer was sustained, we appealed in the fall of 1961.

The case was argued and then on the initiative of the Court of Appeals of Maryland was reargued.

We suspect that at that time, I know we were never able to establish it, that they were marking time while waiting for this Court until it handed down its capital decision in Baker v. Carr.

And when this Court did that within a short month thereafter, our Court, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, in a decision report within 180 A. 2d 656 followed them, the opinion of this Court entailed that we had studied the course of action with respect to the malapportionment that existed in the General Assembly of Maryland at that time and sent it back to the Chancellor, Judge Duckett, for a determination whether there was such a reasonable relation to population or unreasonable relation to population in both Houses.

As a matter of fact, that did or did no constitute a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

There was a further hearing before the Chancellor -- not an evidentiary hearing.

Actually, all the exhibits were stipulated.

There was a motion for summary judgment, but there were really no contested issues of fact anywhere along the line.

On May the 24th, he did hand down a decision in which he struck down the House of Delegate representation as it then stood on May the 24th, 1962.

And within 24 hours, a special session had begun.

After five days of the special session, we had added 19 new delegates to the House of Delegates, and I want to point out that the addition was pursuant to know a statutory formula.