LUCAS v. FORTY-FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF COLORADO

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
508
Appellee 
Forty-Fourth General Assembly of Colorado
Appellant 
Lucas
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(By special leave of Court, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, urging reversal)
(Argued the cause for the Forty-Fourth General Assembly of Colorado)
(Argued the cause for Johnson et al., appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
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Facts of the Case 

Acting on behalf of several voters in the Denver area, Andres Lucas sued various officials connected with Colorado's elections challenging the apportionment of seats in both houses of the Colorado General Assembly. Under Colorado's apportionment plan, the House of Representatives was apportioned on the basis of population but the apportionment of the Senate was based on a combination of population and other factors (geography, compactness and contiguity, accessibility, natural boundaries, and conformity to historical divisions). Consequently, counties with only about one-third of the State's total population would elect a majority of the Senate; the maximum population- variance ratio would be about 3.6-to-1; and the chief metropolitan areas, with over two-thirds of the State's population, could elect only a bare majority of the Senate. When a three-judge District Court upheld the plan, stressing its recent approval by the electorate, the Supreme Court granted Lucas certiorari.

Question 

Is a majority-approved state apportionment plan that permits one house of its congress to be largely apportioned on the basis of factors other than population distribution in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Lucas, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. In a 6-to-3 opinion, the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause requires all districts to be substantially apportioned on a population bases. While noting that some deviation from strict population considerations may be permitted to offset minor underrepresentations of one group or another, the wholesale neglect of population considerations is unconstitutional. The Court added that although a majority of the Colorado electorate approved its apportionment scheme, this cannot override even a single individual's constitutionally protected right to cast an equally weighted vote. The apportionment of Colorado's Senate rendered population considerations virtually insignificant, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Cite this Page
LUCAS v. FORTY-FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF COLORADO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_508>.
LUCAS v. FORTY-FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF COLORADO, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_508 (last visited November 10, 2014).
"LUCAS v. FORTY-FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF COLORADO," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_508.