466 U.S. 910 (1984)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

KARCHER v. DAGGETT , 466 U.S. 910 (1984)

466 U.S. 910

Alan J. KARCHER, Speaker, New Jersey Assembly, et al., appellants, v. George T. DAGGETT et al No. A-740 (83-1526) Supreme Court of the United States March 30, 1984

The application for stay presented to JUSTICE BRENNAN and by him referred to the Court is denied.

Justice STEVENS, concurring.

In Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U.S. ___ ( 1983), we held that the reapportionment plan which had been adopted by New Jersey after the 1980 census was unconstitutional. On remand, the parties, by stipulation, asked the three-judge District Court to select which of a number of proposed redistricting plans should be employed in place of the plan which had been adjudicated unconstitutional. The District Court rejected the "Senate Plan," and selected the "Forsythe Plan." The District Court chose the Forsythe Plan because it achieved lower population deviations and more compact districts than the Senate Plan. Appellants claim that the District Court was obligated to accept the Senate Plan because it most closely conformed to the State's original plan while eliminating unconstitutional population variances. They have, accordingly, filed an application for a stay of the District Court's order, as well as an appeal. Since there is currently no apportionment plan in effect in New Jersey and elections are imminent, what appellants really seek is an injunction from this Court ordering use of the Senate Plan pending disposition of the appeal. Once a constitutional violation has been found, a District Court has broad discretion to fashion an appropriate remedy. E.g., Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 280-288, 2757-2761 ( 1977). I do not believe there is a sufficient likelihood that the District Court abused that discretion by selecting the Forsythe Plan to justify the relief appellants seek. Because the Forsythe Plan contained lower population variances, it more completely redressed the constitutional violation. Nor was it an abuse of discretion to consider the fact that the Forsythe Plan created more compact districts; our previous opinion acknowledged that this is a legitimate consideration in reapportionment. See 462 U.S., at ___. We also stated that efforts to inhibit gerrymandering are a legitimate part of the reapportionment process, see id., at ___, n. 6, n. 6; here the

Page 466 U.S. 910 , 911

District Court found that the plan advocated by appellants constituted "an intentional gerrymander in favor of certain Democratic representatives." App. to Juris. Statement 13a. While a District Court should not unnecessarily ignore state policies when fashioning a remedy, White v. Weiser, 412 U.S. 783, 795-797, 2354-2355 ( 1973), there the District Court rejected a plan implementing "decisions [ ] made by the legislature in pursuit of what were deemed important state interests," id., at 796, and did not explain why the plan it had rejected was "unconstitutional or even undesirable." Id., at 797. Here the District Court identified legitimate considerations justifying its choice, and appellants have identified no state policy to which the District Court should have deferred that justifies the bizarre district lines in the original reapportionment plan. See 462 U.S., at ___ and n. 12, n. 12.

Accordingly, I concur in the Court's decision to deny the application for stay.

Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice WHITE and Justice MARSHALL join, dissenting.

Before the Court is an application seeking to stay an order of a three-judge District Court pending final disposition of an appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. 1253. The challenged order directs the State of New Jersey to conduct upcoming elections for Members of the House of Representatives pursuant to a reapportionment plan adopted by the District Court as a remedy for the constitutional violation found in New Jersey's 1982 reapportionment plan. See Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U.S. ___, 103 S. Ct. 2653 (1983), aff'g 535 F.Supp. 978 (D.C.N.J.1982). Because I believe that the District Court has acted beyond the scope of its authority in correcting the relevant constitutional violation, I would grant the application for stay and remand the case to the District Court for implementation of an alternative plan. I therefore dissent.


Following the 1980 decennial census, the State of New Jersey was required to decrease its membership in the United States House of Representatives from 15 to 14. To satisfy this requirement, the State enacted a congressional reapportionment scheme in January 1982 ( hereinafter referred to as the Feldman Plan) that eliminated one of the State's congressional districts and substantially changed the geographical boundaries used to define the re- [466 U.S. 910 , 912]

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.