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Reynolds v. Sims

377 U.S. 533 (1964)

tl;dr: Affirms one person, one vote.

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The Reynolds v. Sims case involved an appeal and two cross-appeals from a decision made by the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The case centered around the invalidity of existing and proposed plans for the apportionment of seats in the Alabama Legislature, and the implementation of a temporary reapportionment plan. The plaintiffs claimed that the apportionment of the Alabama Legislature deprived them of their rights under the Alabama Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court found the existing representation in the Alabama Legislature violated the Equal Protection Clause due to discriminatory and irrational allocation of seats. The Court ordered a temporary reapportionment plan for the November 1962 election and retained jurisdiction for a permanent injunction until the Legislature provided for a true reapportionment of both Houses. The current Alabama Legislature is apportioned based on the temporary plan prescribed by the Court's decree. The US Constitution protects the right to vote for all qualified citizens. Discrimination against certain citizens that impairs their constitutionally protected right to vote is unconstitutional.

The Equal Protection Clause requires equal representation in state legislatures based on population. Alabama's apportionment plans were unconstitutional because they diluted some citizens' votes. The proposed 67-Senator Amendment is impermissible. Both houses of a state legislature must be apportioned on a population basis. The Alabama Constitution's apportionment provisions violate the Federal Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The District Court acted properly by initially giving the state legislature an opportunity to remedy the discrepancies. The court ordered its own temporary reapportionment plan into effect. The Court laid down a new "equal population" principle for state legislative apportionment. The proposed Fourteenth Amendment aims to compel states to grant universal suffrage or limit their power in the national government. The amendment does not interfere with the states' right to regulate voting, and suffrage for black citizens is currently not feasible.

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Facts & Holding

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Reynolds v. Sims

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