SYMM v. U.S,
439 U.S. 1105 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SYMM v. U.S , 439 U.S. 1105 (1979)

439 U.S. 1105

LeRoy SYMM, Tax Assessor-Collector of Waller County, Texas
No. 77-1688

Supreme Court of the United States

January 15, 1979

The judgment is affirmed.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting.

Today the Court summarily affirms the judgment of a three-judge District Court enjoining appellant Symm, the Tax Assessor-Collector and ex officio voting registrar of Waller County, Tex., from using a certain questionnaire designed to aid Symm in determining whether persons registering to vote in Waller County are bona fide residents. Because I believe the three-judge District Court mistakenly exercised jurisdiction over Symm, I dissent. [ Symm v. U.S 439 U.S. 1105 (1979) ][1105-Continued.]

Waller County, a small rural county west of Houston, has a population of approximately 15,000, a slight majority of which is Negro. Prairie View A & M University is a state-supported predominately black university located in Waller County. Appellant Symm is responsible for registering voters in the county. Persons personally known to Symm or his deputies as county residents, as well as persons who are listed on the tax rolls as owning property in Waller County, are routinely registered upon filling out the state registration form. Those who fall within neither of these categories are required to complete a residency questionnaire, which asks whether the applicant is a college student and, if so, inquires into the student's home address, property ownership, employment status, future plans, and so forth. [Footnote 1]

    "Please print or type your name and address: ............... Are you a college student? ..... If so, where do you attend school ? ............... How long have you been a student at such school ? .......... Where do you live while in college? ............... How long have you lived in Texas? ..... In Waller County? ..... Do you intend to reside in Waller County indefinitely? ..... How long have you considered yourself to be a bona fide resident of Waller County ? ..... What do you plan to do when you finish your college education ?............... Do you have a job or position in Waller County? ..... Own any home or other property in Waller County? ..... Have an automobile registered in Waller County? ..... Have a telephone listing in Waller County? ..... Belong to a Church, Club, or some Waller County Organization other than college related? ..... If so, please name them: ............... Where do you live when college is not in session? ............... What address is listed as your home address with the college? ............... Give any other information which might be helpful."

    Page 439 U.S. 1105 , 1106

    On October 14, 1976, the Attorney General of the United States filed this action against Symm, Waller County, the State of Texas, and its Secretary of State and Attorney General, alleging that use of the questionnaire denied Prairie View students the right to vote in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1971(a), 1971(c), 1973, 1973j(d), 1973bb, and the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C . 1973bb(a)(2),2 the United States moved to convene a three-judge District Court. The request for a three-judge court was predicated on the United States' claim for injunctive relief to remedy alleged violations of the Twenty-sixth Amendment. The motion was granted, and a [439 U.S. 1105 , 1107]

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