REYNOLDS v. SIMS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
23
Petitioner 
Sims
Respondent 
Reynolds
Consolidation 
Vann et al. v. Baggett, Secretary of State of Alabama, et al., No. 27
McConnell et al. v. Baggett, Secretary of State of Alabama, et al., No. 41
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants in No. 23 and for the appellees in Nos. 27 and 41.)
(Attorney General of Alabama, argued the cause pro se for the appellee)
(Argued the cause for the appellees in No. 23)
(Argued the cause in No. 41)
(Solicitor General, Department of Justice, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, urging affirmance)
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Facts of the Case 

In 1961, M.O. Sims, David J. Vann (Vann v. Baggett), John McConnell (McConnell v. Baggett), and other voters from Jefferson County, Alabama, challenged the apportionment of the state legislature. The Alabama Constitution prescribed that each county was entitled to at least one representative and that there were to be as many senatorial districts as there were senators. Population variance ratios of as great as 41-to-1 existed in the Senate.

Question 

Did Alabama's apportionment scheme violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by mandating at least one representative per county and creating as many senatorial districts as there were senators, regardless of population variances?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Sims, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court upheld the challenge to the Alabama system, holding that Equal Protection Clause demanded "no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens...." Noting that the right to direct representation was "a bedrock of our political system," the Court held that both houses of bicameral state legislatures had to be apportioned on a population basis. States were required to "honest and good faith" efforts to construct districts as nearly of equal population as practicable.

Cite this Page
REYNOLDS v. SIMS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_23>.
REYNOLDS v. SIMS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_23 (last visited July 20, 2014).
"REYNOLDS v. SIMS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_23.