Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hill v. Stone case brief

Hill v. Stone case brief summary
421 U.S. 289 (1975)

Appellant, state attorney general, sought review of a judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas that was in favor of appellee residents in an action challenging the constitutionality of Tex. Constitutional art. 6, § 3, Tex. Elec. Code Ann. §§ 5.03, 5.04, 5.05, (1967 and Supp. 1974-1975) and Fort Worth, Tex., Charter, ch. 25, § 19, which limited the voting franchise in a bond election.

The City of Fort Worth conducted a tax bond election, using the attorney general's dual box election procedure, to authorize the sale of bonds to improve transportation and build a library. Under the dual box system, all persons owning taxable property rendered for taxation voted in one box, and all other registered voters cast their ballots in a separate box. The results in both boxes were tabulated, and the bond issue would be deemed to have passed only if it was approved by a majority vote both in the "renderers' box" and in the aggregate of both boxes. The library bonds were defeated by the renderers but approved in the aggregate and the residents, non-renderers, filed suit. The trial court held that the restriction on suffrage did not serve a compelling state interest and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause.

  • On appeal, the Court affirmed, reasoning that in an election of general interest, restrictions on the franchise other than residence, age, and citizenship must promote a compelling state interest in order to survive constitutional attack. 
  • The Court held that promoting voluntary rendering of property for taxation was not a compelling interest.

The Court affirmed.

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