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SIXTY-SEVENTH MINNESOTA STATE SENATE v. BEENS ET AL.

decided*fn*: April 29, 1972.

SIXTY-SEVENTH MINNESOTA STATE SENATE
v.
BEENS ET AL.



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 406 U.S. Page 187]

These two appeals are taken by the Minnesota State Senate from orders of a three-judge Federal District Court

[ 406 U.S. Page 188]

     reapportioning the Minnesota Legislature. The appeals do not challenge the District Court's conclusion that the legislature is now malapportioned. And at this point they are not concerned with population variances or with other issues of the type customarily presented in reapportionment litigation. The controversy focuses, instead, on (a) the District Court's refusal to honor the Minnesota statute fixing the number of the State's legislative districts at 67 and (b) the court's proceeding, over the initial opposition of all parties (but upon the suggestion of two amici, the Lieutenant Governor and a representative), to reduce the number of legislative districts to 35, the number of senators by almost 50%, and the number of representatives by nearly 25%. We conclude that the District Court erred in its rulings. Accordingly, we summarily vacate the court's orders and remand the cases for further proceedings promptly to be pursued.

I

 The Minnesota Bicameral Legislature was last effectively apportioned in 1966. Ex. Sess. Laws 1966, c. 1.*fn1

[ 406 U.S. Page 189]

     Section 2.021 of Minn. Stat. (1969), the very first section of the 1966 Act, states that, "until a new apportionment shall have been made," the State's senate shall consist of 67 members and its house of representatives of 135 members.*fn2 Section 2.031, subd. 1, from the second section of the 1966 Act, prescribes 67 legislative districts for both the senate and the house.*fn3 Sections 2.041-2.711, inclusive, then delineate these 67 districts.*fn4 The State's Constitution, Art. IV, § 2, provides a legislator-population minimum ratio (one senator for every 5,000 inhabitants and one representative for every 2,000 inhabitants) and states, "The representation in both houses shall be apportioned equally throughout the different sections of the state, in proportion to the population thereof."

The 1970 federal census took place in due course. The Minnesota Legislature did not produce a reapportionment act during its regular session in 1971. One was passed on October 29, 1971, during the reconvening of an extra session called that year. The lawmakers adjourned sine die on October 30. The Governor, however, vetoed the act on November 1 and

[ 406 U.S. Page 190]

     this 1971 reapportionment endeavor failed to become law.*fn5 The Governor has not called the legislature to another extra session for more work on reapportionment,*fn6 and it is not scheduled to meet again in regular session until January 1973. Minn. Const., Art. IV, § 1; Minn. Stat. § 3.01 (1969). The 1972 primary and general elections will take place in the interim. Minn. Stat. §§ 202.02 and 203.02 (1969). Thus, the 1966 statute remains as the State's last effective legislative apportionment.

II

The original plaintiffs, who are among the appellees here, are three qualified voters of the State. By their complaint, filed in April 1971 and asserting jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. §§ 1343 (3) and (4) and 42 U. S. C. §§ 1983 and 1988, they sought (a) a declaratory judgment that the 1966 Act apportioning the legislature violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, (b) an injunction restraining the Minnesota Secretary of State and all county auditors from conducting future elections for legislators pursuant to that Act, and (c) reapportionment of the legislature by the federal court itself. The three-judge court was convened. The appellant, the Sixty-seventh Minnesota State Senate, intervened as a party defendant under Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 24 (a).

The District Court, after hearings and with the assistance of stipulations, issued three significant orders:

A. On November 15, 1971, it made appropriate findings, not challenged here as to their basic provisions,

[ 406 U.S. Page 191]

     and declared the 1966 Act in its entirety, Minn. Stat. §§ 2.021-2.712 (1969), inclusive, violative of the Federal Constitution, enjoined the Secretary of State and the county auditors from conducting future elections under the Act, and appointed two Special Masters (a third was named later) to aid the court in formulating a new apportionment plan. See 336 F.Supp. 715, 718-719.

B. On December 3 it found "that it best can fulfill its duty of apportioning the Minnesota Legislature in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and with due regard for State policy" by dividing the State into 35 senatorial districts and dividing each senatorial district into three house districts, and ordered that the parties, intervenors, and amici could present plans for apportioning the legislature accordingly. In an accompanying memorandum the court said, "The only serious questions . . . are whether we have the authority to change the size of the Legislature; and if so, to what extent." It answered the first of these questions in the affirmative, quoting the following sentence from Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971):

"Once a right and a violation have been shown, the scope of a district court's equitable powers to remedy past wrongs is broad, for breadth and flexibility are inherent in equitable remedies." 402 U.S., at 15.

The court stated that the legislature could not be apportioned into 67 senate districts and 135 house districts without violating either the Federal Constitution or the Minnesota Constitution; that the existing practice of dividing one senate district into three house districts and all others into two cannot be continued without violating the requirements of equal protection; that the greater the population of each district, the more closely

[ 406 U.S. Page 192]

     can the one man, one vote standard be met and still give effect to the state policy of adhering to the boundaries of political subdivisions; that state policy with respect to the legislature's size "is difficult to discern"; that the Governor had recommended a reduction in size; that there is merit in having an odd-numbered senate and house where, as in Minnesota, the State has "two strong and rather evenly divided political parties"; that federal constitutional and state policy requirements can best be harmonized by having 35 senate districts and by dividing each senate district into three house districts; that there are persuasive arguments that "positive benefits to the State will accrue by substantially reducing the size of the Senate and moderately reducing the size of the House"; and that "it is not our desire to fix for the future the size of the Senate and the House in Minnesota," for the legislature, if it wishes, may appropriately reapportion. See 336 F.Supp., at 720-721.

C. On January 25, 1972, it entered its "Final Order and Plan of Apportionment" by which it adopted a plan therein described. The court also modified its injunction of November 15 so as to enjoin the state secretary and county auditors from conducting any future elections for the legislature under any plan other than the one adopted by the court "or a constitutional plan adopted after this date by the State of Minnesota." In accord with Minn. Const., Art. IV, ...


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