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Jones v. Falcey

Decided: July 8, 1966.

LESTER C. JONES, GLENN T. HOFFMAN AND H. MILTON FLITCRAFT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT M. FALCEY, ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ARTHUR J. SILLS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, CHARLES W. SANDMAN, JR., PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW JERSEY, AND MARION W. HIGGINS, SPEAKER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS. FRANK C. OSMERS, JR., DOUGLAS RUTHERFURD, JOHN LINDSON, NEIL F. DEIGHAN, SAMUEL ELACQUA, THE UNION COUNTY COUNCIL A.F.L. C.I.O., WILLIAM L. STUBBS, HYMAN B. MINTZ, J. RUSSELL WOOLLEY, JOSEPH C. IRWIN, BENJAMIN H. DANSKIN, HARRY J. LARRISON, JR., MARCUS DALY AND GEORGE BUCKWALD, PLAINTIFFS-INTERVENORS, V. ROBERT M. FALCEY, ETC., ET ALS., DEFENDANTS. MURRAY S. ABOFF, MERELYN DOLINS, AND MAMIE J. VAN HORNE, PLAINTIFFS-INTERVENORS, V. ROBERT M. FALCEY, ETC., ET ALS., DEFENDANTS



Civil action. Conclusions.

Wick, J.s.c.

Wick

[92 NJSuper Page 47] This court heretofore determined that the prior congressional apportionment statute of New Jersey was unconstitutional under the cases of Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533,

84 S. Ct. 1362, 12 L. Ed. 2 d 506 (1964), and Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 82 S. Ct. 691, 7 L. Ed. 2 d 663 (1962), and reserved unto itself the right to further action in the event the Legislature failed to act on reapportionment by July 1, 1966.

The Legislature has now passed two bills, Senate No. 469 and Senate No. 481, now chapters 156 and 183, Laws of 1966, upon the signatures of the Governor and Acting Governor on June 18, 1966 and June 27, 1966, respectively.

Plaintiffs and the intervenors attack these laws on constitutional grounds, asserting that there has been demonstrated a pattern of general disregard for the lines of established political subdivisions, citing the break-up of Newark and Jersey City and the counties of Union, Middlesex, Ocean and Camden; and that in disregarding established political lines there is no excuse for deviations of plus 7.1% to minus 7.3%, and particularly is this so after the passage of the amending statute which creates a deviation up to plus 8.7%; and further, that both statutes change the alignment of Bergen County from an east-west division to a north-south division.

The basic law is found in Reynolds v. Sims, and Baker v. Carr, supra, and in Westberry v. Saunders, 376 U.S. 1, 84 S. Ct. 526, 11 L. Ed. 2 d 481 (1964), wherein the United States Supreme Court held that the constitutional requirement in Article I, Section II, that representatives be chosen "by the People of the several States," means that as nearly as practicable one person's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another's.

Proofs were presented in the form of a television interview of Senator Jeremiah F. O'Connor held on Sunday, June 5, 1966, which is of questionable value as evidence; the report of the "Meyner Commission"; the two bills enacted into law; the legislative history of the two bills; the voting record of the three municipalities moved by chapter 183, and judicial notice was asked to be taken of the census of these moved municipalities as set forth in the 1964 and 1965 Legislative Manuals.

Plaintiffs and intervenors contend that in reference to congressional redistricting, the courts without exception have held that numerical equality of districts is the ultimate goal. Deviations have been permitted from numerical precision where necessary to accommodate other permissible factors. Preisler v. Hearnes, 362 S.W. 2 d 552 (Mo. Sup. Ct. 1962), held against the contention of plaintiff that more equal apportionment could have been achieved by dividing counties. The court said:

"However, counties are important governmental units in which the people are accustomed to working together. Therefore it has always been the policy of this state in creating districts of more than one county (congressional, judicial or senatorial) to have them composed of entire counties."

The Missouri Legislature departed from this only with regard to its two largest counties, where the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City were located. The court further observed:

"Therefore, any redistricting agreed upon must always be a compromise. Mathematical exactness is not required or in fact obtainable and a compromise, for which there is any reasonable basis, is an exercise of ...


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