Whitcomb v. Chavis

LOCATION: Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 403 US 124 (1971)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1970
DECIDED: Jun 07, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Whitcomb v. Chavis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1970 in Whitcomb v. Chavis

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments in Whitcomb against Chavis, number 92.

Mr. Attorney General you may proceed whenever you are ready.

William F. Thompson:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, may it please the Court.

My name is William F. Thompson.

I am the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Indiana.

This morning or this afternoon I will --

Arguing on behalf of appellant, the Governor of the State of Indiana.

I am accompanied this afternoon at counsel table by Theodore L. Sendak, Attorney General for the State of Indiana, and Richard C. Johnson, his Chief Deputy.

In our brief in this case we presented this Court with six issues.

This afternoon the State will concentrate its argument on two of those issues.

The first issue is whether the constitution permits or requires that a racial/socioeconomic group be proportionally represented in the State Legislature by representatives elected from that group.

Secondly, whether the constitution requires all state legislative districts to be the same size.

If time allows, the state will discuss the remaining issues.

I would be glad to, would be pleased to answer any questions this Court may have regarding them.

This action began as an action for declaratory injunctive relief in the District Court.

It was brought by Negro residents of Marion County, Indiana.

Marion County is one of 92 counties in Indiana.

The plaintiffs below challenged the constitutionality of the Marion County multi-member districting scheme.

Marion County provides for the at large election of 15 members of the House representatives and 8 members of the Senate.

This action does not involve congressional districting, is limited solely to state legislative districts.

Following this Court's decision in Baker v. Carr, Indiana began the long road to reapportionment.

In 1963, it reapportioned, in 1965 it again reapportioned.

The 1965 Act was declared unconstitutional by the District Court in the case of Stout v. Bottorff, that's the first District Court case.

A special session of the 65 legislature was called, and they again enacted an Apportionment Act, that was the Apportionment Act of 1965 and that is the subject of this litigation.

It is interesting to note that one of the plaintiffs in this action was the member of the 1965 legislature, that enacted the 1965 Act, that he voted for that Act and that he now attacks that Act.

There were six plaintiffs in the Court below, one was a resident of the Lake County, another County in Indiana, five of the plaintiffs were residents of Marion County.

The District Court found in favor of only one of the plaintiffs' from Marion County, only one plaintiff in this case was found by the District Court being entitled to relief.

That was Mason Bryant, Mason Bryant was the resident of an area, within Marion County, which the District Court denominated as the Center Township ghetto.

He was the resident and voter of the Center Township ghetto.