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U.S. Supreme Court

Maryland Committee v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656 (1964)

Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes

No. 29

Argued November 13-14, 1963

Decided June 15, 1964

377 U.S. 656


The Maryland Senate, under the 1867 Constitution, has 29 seats, one for each of 23 counties and six for the City of Baltimore's legislative districts. The State's five most populous political subdivisions, with over three-fourths of the 1960 population, are represented by only slightly over one-third of the Senate's membership, and, prior to 1962 temporary legislation, were represented by less than one-half of the House of Delegates' membership. Appellants, including voters in those subdivisions, sued appellee officials in a state court seeking a declaration that the legislative apportionment deprived them and others similarly situated of rights protected under the Equal Protection Clause, and sought a declaration that the legislature's failure to convene a constitutional convention approved by a majority of the voters in 1950 violated the State Constitution. The circuit court, after reversal of its order dismissing the complaint, held that as to certain counties there was invidious discrimination in the apportionment of the House, but refrained from passing on the validity of the senatorial apportionment. The legislature thereafter enacted legislation whose effect was to give those five most populous subdivisions 55.6% of the members of the House, but failed to pass a constitutional amendment reapportioning the House. On another remand, the circuit court held that the Senate apportionment, although established on a nonpopulation, geographical basis, was constitutional, and the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the appeal did not question the House apportionment and upholding the Senate apportionment, in part in reliance on an analogy to the Federal Senate. Opposition of legislators from the less populous counties accounted for failure of many reapportionment bills, and Maryland law makes no provision for reapportionment or the initiation of legislation or constitutional amendments by the people.


1. This Court cannot decide on the validity of the apportionment of one house of a bicameral legislature without also evaluating the actual apportionment of the other. P. 377 U. S. 673. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 377 U. S. 657

2. Whether or not the House is apportioned on a population basis, Maryland's legislative representation scheme cannot be sustained under the Equal Protection Clause because of the gross disparities from population-based representation in the apportionment of Senate seats. P. 377 U. S. 673.

3. Seats in both houses of a bicameral state legislature must, under the Equal Protection Clause, be apportioned substantially on a population basis. Reynolds v. Sims, ante, p. 377 U. S. 533, followed. P. 377 U. S. 674.

4. Neither house of the Maryland Legislature, even after the temporary legislation, is apportioned sufficiently on a population basis to be constitutionally sustainable. P. 377 U. S. 674.

5. The same constitutional standards apply whether an apportionment scheme is evaluated in the state or federal courts. P. 377 U. S. 674.

6. Reliance on the "federal analogy" to sustain the Maryland apportionment scheme is misplaced. Reynolds v. Sims, supra, followed. P. 377 U. S. 675.

7. The Maryland Legislature has sufficient time before the 1966 elections to reapportion the General Assembly, but under no circumstances should those elections be conducted under the existing or other unconstitutional plan. Pp. 377 U. S. 675-676.

229 Md. 406, 184 A. 2d 715, reversed and remanded. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 377 U. S. 658

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