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Reynolds v. Sims (1964) Legal Brief by David A.W. Hittle

DAVID A.W. HITTLE                                                                                   







Reynolds v. Sims (1964)

377 U.S. 533; 84 S. Ct. 1362; 12 L. Ed. 506

Vote: 8-1


The Facts of the case are these: The Alabama legislature apportioned for two Congress’ in Alabama. Two Registered Voters; filed suit challenging the constitutionally of the existing apportionment.


The Issues in this case are these: Is the apportionment conducted by the Alabama Legislature in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution?


The Holding in this case are these: By a vote of 8 to 1 the Court finds: Yes, the apportionment conducted by the Alabama Legislature violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.


The Chief Justice of the United States Justice Warren delivered the Majority Opinion for the Court. Justice Warren stated: “The judicial focus must be concentrated upon ascertaining whether there has been any discrimination against certain of the State’s citizens which constitutes an impermissible impairment of their constitutionally protected right to vote….” He goes on to say: “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or citizens of economic interests.” He concludes by saying: “By holding that as a federal constitutional requiste both houses of a state legislature must be apportioned by a population basis, we mean that the Equal Protection Clause requires that a State make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts, in both houses of its legislature, as nearly of equal population as practicable.”


Justice Clark Concurred….


Justice Steward Concurred….


Justice Harlan Dissents he begins by saying: “The Court’s constitutional discussion is….remarkable… for its failure to address itself at all to the Fourteenth Amendment as a whole or to the legislative history of the Amendment pertinent to the matter at hand.” He goes on to say: “Had the Court paused to probe more deeply into the matter, it would have found that the Equal Protection Clause was never intended to inhibit the States in choosing any democratic method they pleased for the apportionment of their legislatures….”


The Significance of this case is this: The Court in its decision makes all voting protected under the Equal Protection Clause.

The Dissenting opinion finds this interpretation wrong; however the majority finds in this way.