LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court
DOCKET NO.: 72-147
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
CITATION: 412 US 755 (1973)
ARGUED: Feb 26, 1973
DECIDED: Jun 18, 1973
David R. Richards - for appellees Regester and others
Ed Idar, Jr. -
Leon Jaworski - for appellants
Thomas Gibbs Gee - for the Republican appellees Willeford and others
Facts of the case
Media for White v. Regester
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1973 in White v. Regester
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Jaworski, you may proceed whenever you are ready.
Mr. Chief justice and may it please the Court.
As was true in the case argued just before, that's one the Attorney General of the Texas, the honorable John L. Hill has participated in the preparation of this appeal.
He has the staff with us, and in order to avoid the providing of arguments, he has asked that I present the argument on behalf of the state.
I think it perhaps a more accurate description of what this case really involves could hardly be made and the characterization given it by the Central Judge who stated that this was an instance of the majority entering fields of the purely state and local management.
Now under the provisions of Article 3, Section 28 of the Constitution of Texas, a Legislative Redistricting Board has assembled, if the legislature fails to redistrict the state after its first regular session following the publication of each United States decennial census.
So the legislature convened in January 1971, was under constitutional mandate, to provide this redistricting.
Our Texas has a bicameral legislature, and because the legislature had failed to redistrict in both houses, of course, any effort at redistricting failed and as a consequence, the redistricting board was assembled and considered the matter of providing a plan of redistricting the senate, and also a plan of redistricting the lower house.
Now, this board consists as constituted by several elected officials, state officials serving on it.
There is the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House, the Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office.
Now three or more of these members of the redistricting board may assign whatever plan they agree upon, and it certify to the Secretary of State, and then it becomes an effective plan.
Now, I might say that the house plan is the only one.
The plan relating to the representative is the only plan that's involved on this appeal.
Perhaps, brief reference should be made to the commencement of those litigation after they planned to file, a suit was instituted in Houston, Texas by Curtis Graves, a black state representative from Harris County that?s Huston in which he contended that there was unconstitutional apportionment of the senatorial districts because of an alleged racial gerrymandering.
His point being that there should have been district carved out in which 80% are blacks and that because one was not carved out in that matter that it was unconstitutional.
And then next came, a number of others civil suits that were filled challenging the boards plan for the house of representatives in different parts of the state with different groups, filing these suits, and interventions were also filled on behalf of a number of groups and there was a consolidation of all of these actions and they were heard before the Three-Judge Court.
Now, the court ordered first that unless the legislature of Texas on or before July of the 1, 1973, adopted a plan to reapportion the legislative districts in accordance with the constitutional guideline set out in the court's opinion that the Court will then proceed to reapportion the state itself, and then the Court further ordered that the counties of Dallas, that is where the city of Dallas is and the County of Bexar that's where San Antonio is that both of these, the reapportioned into single-member representative districts in conformance with a plan of reapportionment that the court provided.
Harry A. Blackmun:
Mr. Jaworski, was there injunctive relief granted?
Yes sir, an injunctive relief, excuse me sir.
The injunctive relief consisted all of the state being restrained from proceeding.
The elections could not be held in accordance with the plan that had been filed by the redistricting Board.
A judge would say, state it very frankly that he'll wholeheartedly disagree with his colleagues in declaring the state plan unconstitutional, saying that he could think of nothing that illustrated more vividly the chaos that existed in the area of restructuring the political districts of a state as was attempted to be done and ordered by the court in this particular instance.
It'd be done by July 1, 1973 or else of course the plan had to be adopted. Of course the Mahan versus Howell case is very significant.
A number of the courts' pronouncements in that case are quite applicable here.
Perhaps I should point out that what the majority did in our case was relied on the Kirkpatrick versus Preisler case and repeatedly refrying to it also on Wells versus Rockefeller, both which is we know are congressional redistricting cases.
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Jaworski, has the court has said at least once and perhaps more often that a good deal more flexibility is permitted in state legislature then in congressional districts?
That's what this Court of course said in the Mahan and Howell case.
Warren E. Burger:
Well, we have said it before that?
And also said it, yes sir in the Reynolds --