National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. New York

RESPONDENT: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court

DOCKET NO.: 72-129
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 413 US 345 (1973)
ARGUED: Feb 27, 1973 / Feb 28, 1973
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1973

A. Raymond Randolph, Jr. - for appellee United States
Erwin N. Griswold -
George D. Zuckerman - for appellee New York
Jack Greenburg -
Jack Greenberg - for appellants
Raymond Randolph Jr. -

Facts of the case


Media for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 27, 1973 in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1973 in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. New York

Warren E. Burger:

You may resume, you have about nine minutes left.

A. Raymond Randolph, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

As I was discussing yesterday, the only issue in this case is did the District Court earned denying intervention in April 19, 1972 in light of the circumstances existing at that time in light of the allegations before it.

Under Rule 24 (a), the application for intervention must be timely it is a requirement of the rule.

We think this is particularly important on Section 4 (a) cases where time may in fact be of the essence.

Congress itself recognize this by assigning these cases to three Judge District Courts and allowing for direct appeal to this Court.

Now here appellants file their motion to intervene on April 7.

The action itself have been filed by the State of New York in December 3rd. More then four months had passed since the action had originally been filed, the Justice Department had been investigating New York’s complaint during this time and had completed his investigation.

In the District Court, at this time the only explanation, appellants gave to the District Court for filing the action at this time is contained on page 47 of the appendix.

I read from their motion to intervene, paragraph six, “because counsel for petitioners was only informed within the last 48 hours, the United States would not adequately represent the interest of petitioners and because substantial litigation has not yet occurred.

The instant application is to intervene is timely.

As against this, New York objected to the intervention and their objections are contained on page 67 to 70 of the appendix.

New York pointed out four basic things, number one; the action had been pending for four months.

Number two, appellants or applicants at the time there before the District Court were clearly on notice of this case.

The affidavit pointed to a New York Times article where political leaders in this counties were discussing whether to intervene or whether to take action with respect to New York’s complaint the fact that in the article itself which is reprinted in the reply brief of the appellants here also mentioned that a citizens voter education committee chairman had not mentioned the action.

The other point that New York made is that intervention at this time would disrupt and possibly preclude New York’s upcoming primary elections where delegates to the democratic national convention would be chosen, where delegates to the state assembly and the state senate and congressional seats would be chosen.

The reasons it would have that effect is because New York had agreed that this is reapportion and is covered by Section 5, unless New York got out from the Act under 4 (a), Section 5 would remain outstanding and then they would have to go through the lengthy process of having clearance with the Attorney General which could not be completed by the time the elections were scheduled to be held.

The fourth point and form the Department of Justice’s point of view and we think the most important that New York made is that at no time, during this period that the appellants offer any evidence to the Department of Justice regarding why New York was not entitled to summary judgment.

Now this is what was before the District Court, these are the allegations that were before the District Court and of course the District Court denied intervention at that time.

And we think that the Court acted within its discretion.

The only other case dealing with intervention in the section 4 (a) case which is very close to this case is the Apache County case which we’ve sited and discussed beginning on page 22 of our brief.

Judge Leventhal speaking for the Court in that case in discussing intervention said that in these kinds of cases, the applicants must at least first and I quote “bring to the attention of the Department of Justice any instances of discrimination in the use of literacy test.

The appellants have not done so here and in fact just about a year and half before they sought to intervene they go into record indicating that in fact they had no such evidence.

I read from the 1969 hearings on the extension of the Voting’s Right Act and Clarence Mitchell’s testimony before the house judiciary committee to chairman of manual seller have used—

Is this something the District Court would consider?

A. Raymond Randolph, Jr.:

No it’s not, it’s not.

I am trying to indicate why, a possible explanation why no evidence was presented to the Justice Department.

This is on record, I am reading from pages 251 to 252, the hearings which is cited throughout appellants brief.

Chairman seller have used one of the principle officials of the national association for the advancement of colored people had any appreciable complaints from parts of the country other than those southern states which indicate that there are abuses of the type you have mentioned here.

Mr. Mitchell, the answer to that question Mr. Chairman is no, it goes on to say, “I would further state that I would check with the general council the NAACP legal defense and education fund Mr. Greenburg, may I ask for his permission to quote him to the said committee?”