Lucas v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colorado
Annotate this Case
377 U.S. 713 (1964)
U.S. Supreme Court
Lucas v. Forty-Fourth Gen. Assembly of Colorado, 377 U.S. 713 (1964)
Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly of Colorado
Argued March 31-April 1, 1964
Decided June 15, 1964
377 U.S. 713
Appellants, voters in the Denver metropolitan area, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, sued various officials having duties in connection with state elections challenging the apportionment of seats in both houses of the Colorado General Assembly. A three-judge Federal District Court deferred a hearing until after the 1962 general election at which two proposals for amending the state constitutional provisions relating to legislative apportionment were to be voted on by the Colorado electorate. Under the plan which was adopted, the House of Representatives was presumably to be apportioned on the basis of population, but the existing apportionment of the Senate, based on a combination of population and other factors (geography, compactness and contiguity, accessibility, natural boundaries, and conformity to historical divisions) was substantially maintained. The rejected proposal would have based apportionment of both houses largely on the basis of population. Under the adopted plan, counties with only about one-third of the State's total population would elect a majority of the Senate; the maximum population variance ratio would be about 3.6 to 1; and the chief metropolitan areas, with over two-thirds of the State's population, could elect only a bare majority of the Senate. Following the general election, the parties amended their pleadings so that a challenge to the newly adopted apportionment scheme was solely involved. The District Court, stressing approval by the electorate, held that the recently adopted plan met the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and dismissed the suit.
2. Though this Court need not pass upon the apportionment of the House, which is not challenged here, the apportionment of
the Senate under the newly adopted scheme, which is not severable from the apportionment of the House, departs from population-based representation too substantially to be permissible under the Equal Protection Clause. P. 377 U. S. 735.
3. A political remedy, such as the initiative and referendum, may justify an equity court in deferring action temporarily on an apportionment plan to allow recourse to such procedure; but such a remedy has no constitutional significance if the plan does not meet equal protection requirements. Pp. 377 U. S. 736-737.
4. The disparities from population-based representation in the allocation of Senate seats to populous areas cannot be justified as rational on the ground that geographical, historical, and other factors were taken into account. P. 377 U. S. 738.
5. The "federal analogy" relied upon with regard to the Senate apportionment plan is without factual or legal merit. P. 377 U. S. 738.
6. It is not appropriate for this Court to express a view on the question of remedies, since the District Court, acting under equitable principles, must now determine whether the imminence of 1964 elections requires utilization of the newly adopted apportionment plan for purposes of those elections or whether appellants' right to cast adequately weighted votes for state legislators in those elections can practicably be effectuated. P. 377 U. S. 739.
219 F. Supp. 922 reversed and remanded.