SWANN V. ADAMS, 385 U. S. 440 (1967)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swann v. Adams, 385 U.S. 440 (1967)

Swann v. Adams

No. 136

Argued December 6, 1966

Decided January 9, 1967

385 U.S. 440


Following this Court's decisions in Swann v. Adams invalidating the apportionment of the Florida Legislature (378 U.S. 553) and the subsequent reapportionment which the District Court had found unconstitutional but approved on an interim basis ( 383 U. S. 383 U.S. 210), the Florida Legislature adopted still another legislative reapportionment plan, which appellants, residents and voters of Dade County, Florida, attacked as failing to meet the standards of voter equality set forth in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, and companion cases. The new plan provides for 48 senators and 117 representatives. The senate districts range from 15.09% overrepresentation to 10.56% underrepresentation, the ratio between the largest and smallest district being 1.30 to 1. The house districts range from 18.28% overrepresentation to 15.27% underrepresentation, the ratio between the largest and the smallest district being 1.41 to 1. The State failed to present any acceptable reasons for the population variance between districts, indicating only that it was attempting to follow congressional district lines and that its plan came as close as "practical" to complete population equality, though appellants' proposed plan showed the feasibility of measurably reducing population differences between districts. Though recognizing that "apportionment must be substantially on a population basis," the District Court held the variations not discriminatory and upheld the plan.


1. Appellants have standing to attack the reapportionment. P. 385 U. S. 443.

2. The State's failure to articulate acceptable reasons for population variances between districts invalidates the reapportionment plan. Pp. 385 U. S. 443-447.

(a) Allowable deviations from equality of population between legislative districts are confined to minor variations which "are based on legitimate considerations incident to the effectuation of a rational state policy." Reynolds v. Sims, supra, at 377 U. S. 579. P. 385 U. S. 444.

Page 385 U. S. 441

(b) Minor variations from a pure population standard must be nondiscriminatory and justified by state policy considerations such as integrity of political subdivisions, maintenance of compactness and contiguity in legislative districts, or recognition of natural or historical boundary lines. P. 385 U. S. 444.

(c) Variation from the norm approved in one State has little relevance to the validity of a similar variation in another State. P. 385 U. S. 445.

258 F.Supp. 819, reversed.

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