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Reynolds v. Sims

    Brief Fact Summary. A state’s apportionment scheme lacking the one person, one vote principle resulted in an inequity in the weight placed on votes cast by participants in the election of state legislatures.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Constitution) guarantees that the right to have one’s vote counted equally to other voters in an election of state legislatures.

    Facts. The constitutionality of the Alabama legislatures apportionment system was challenged for lack the one person, one vote principle. The apportionment system results in an inequity in the voting power throughout various counties in Alabama. The judgment is affirmed and remanded

    Issue. Whether an apportionment system lacking the one person, one vote principle constitutes invidious discrimination and is violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

    Held. Chief Justice Earl Warren (J. Warren). Yes. The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution “requires that the seats in both houses of a bicameral state legislature must be apportioned on a population basis. An individual’s right to vote for state legislator is unconstitutionally impaired when its weight is in a substantial fashion diluted when compared with votes of citizens living in other parts of the State.” These principles are upheld when all votes are weighted equally. The judgment is affirmed.

    Discussion. This decision helped to resolve a long-standing problem with apportionment schemes lacking the one person, one vote principle in several states.


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