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U.S. Supreme Court

Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa, 439 U.S. 60 (1978)

Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa

No. 77-515

Argued October 11, 1978

Decided November 28, 1978

439 U.S. 60


Appellants, a civic association and certain individual residents of Holt, Ala., a small unincorporated community outside the corporate limits of Tuscaloosa but within three miles thereof, brought this statewide class action challenging the constitutionality of "police jurisdiction" statutes that extend municipal police, sanitary, and business licensing powers over those residing within three miles of certain corporate boundaries without permitting such residents to vote in municipal elections. A three-judge District Court granted appellees' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.


1. The convening of a three-judge court under then-applicable 28 U.S.C. § 2281 (1970 ed.) was proper, since appellants challenged the constitutionality of state statutes that created a statewide system under which Alabama cities exercise extraterritorial powers. Moody v. Flowers, 387 U. S. 97, distinguished. Pp. 439 U. S. 63-65.

2. Alabama's police jurisdiction statutes do not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 439 U. S. 66-75.

(a) A government unit may legitimately restrict the right to participate in its political processes to those who reside within its borders. Various voting qualification decisions on which appellants rely in support of their contention that the denial of the franchise to them can stand only if justified by a compelling state interest are inapposite. In those cases, unlike the situation here, the challenged statutes disfranchised individuals who physically resided within the geographical boundaries of the governmental entity concerned. Pp. 439 U. S. 66-70.

(b) Alabama's police jurisdiction statutory scheme is a rational legislative response to the problems faced by the State's burgeoning cities, and the legislature has a legitimate interest in ensuring that residents of areas adjoining city borders be provided such basic municipal services as police, fire, and health protection. Nor is it unreasonable for the legislature to require police jurisdiction residents to contribute through license fees, as they do here on a reduced scale, to the expense of such services. Pp. 439 U. S. 70-75. chanrobles.com-red

Page 439 U. S. 61

3. The challenged statutes do not violate due process, since appellants have no constitutional right to vote in Tuscaloosa elections. P. 439 U. S. 75.


REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 439 U. S. 75. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 439 U. S. 79.