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People Ex Rel. Giannis v. Carpentier

OPINION FILED JANUARY 4, 1964.

THE PEOPLE EX REL. GUS GIANNIS, PETITIONER,

v.

CHARLES F. CARPENTIER, SECRETARY OF STATE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



ORIGINAL PETITION for writ of mandamus.

MR. JUSTICE SOLFISBURG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an original petition for writ of mandamus brought by Gus Giannis, a qualified voter, against the State Electoral Board seeking to compel the Board to require all candidates for State Senator in 1964 to be elected at large rather than from the Senatorial districts established by the Reapportionment Act of 1955. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1955, chap. 46, par. 158-1 et seq.; see Donovan v. Holzman, 8 Ill.2d 87.) Twenty-nine of the Senate's fifty-eight seats will be in contest in 1964.

The legislature failed in 1963 to redistrict the State for the purpose of electing members of the House Representatives because the Governor vetoed the Reapportionment Act passed by the General Assembly (H.B. 978); the Redistricting Commission, established pursuant to section 8 of article IV of the constitution, likewise failed to redistrict the House. We, therefore, held in People ex rel. Spence v. Carpentier, post, p. 43, decided this day, that the House of Representatives must be elected from the State at large in the 1964 general election.

Three of the members of the Electoral Board — the Governor, the Attorney General and the State Auditor — have appeared by the Attorney General and have adopted petitioner Giannis' position, and will therefore also be referred to as petitioners. They urge that if the House of Representatives must be elected at large, then those who are candidates for the Senate must also be so elected.

The other two members of the Electoral Board — the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer — oppose the petition, and will be referred to as respondents. They contend that even though the House will run at large, the Senate is unaffected and should be elected from the districts established by the Reapportionment Act of 1955.

Because of the conflict among the members of the Electoral Board, and with the consent of the Attorney General, we have appointed separate counsel to represent the Secretary of State and the Treasurer. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, chap. 14, par. 6.) A motion to dismiss has been filed by that counsel, so that the legal issue raised by the petition is presented for decision.

The relevant provisions of article IV of the constitution, as amended in 1954, are sections 6, 7 and 8. Section 6 constitutes the Senate as a body of 58 members who are chosen primarily upon the basis of area. The State is to be divided into 58 Senatorial districts by a legislative redistricting, and this was done by the Reapportionment Act of 1955. Once Senate districts have been established, they are permanently fixed and may not be altered, revised or reallocated except by constitutional amendment. See Donovan v. Holzman, 8 Ill.2d 87. See also Rall, A Summary of the 1954 Constitutional Amendments, 42 Ill. Law Journal, 509, 509-10 (March, 1954); Witwer and Choka, The Proposed Reapportionment Amendment, 35 Chicago Bar Record, 323, 324-25 (April, 1954).

Section 7 provides that the House of Representatives is to be composed of three representatives from each of 59 districts throughout the State apportioned on the basis of population. The section contrasts with section 6 in that it provides for periodic redistricting of the House, i.e., in 1955, 1963, and each decade thereafter. House reapportionment is to be accomplished by proportionately allocating the 59 districts among three delineated divisions within the State according to current population.

Section 8 (save for the first sentence) concerns remedial alternatives that are to be employed if legislative redistricting fails. It reads:

"§ 8. In performing its duties under Sections 6 and 7 of this amendment, the General Assembly shall redistrict and reapportion in a single legislative enactment. If, however, the regular session of the General Assembly in 1955 as to both senatorial and representative districts or in 1963, or any ten years thereafter as to representative districts, fails by the first day of July to redistrict the state into such districts, then the redistricting shall be accomplished by a commission. * * *

"This commission shall redistrict the State into senatorial districts and into representative districts in the manner specified above. This commission shall file with the secretary of state a full statement of the numbers of the senatorial and representative districts and their boundaries. No such statement shall be valid unless approved by seven members of such commission.

"After such statement is filed, senators and representatives shall be elected according to the statement and the districts therein determined, until a redistricting and reapportionment are thereafter made by the General Assembly as provided in this amendment. If, however, the statement is not filed within four months after the commission is appointed it shall stand discharged. Thereupon, all senators, scheduled for election at the next election for state senators, and all state representatives shall be nominated and elected at the next election from the state at large. Following such an election at large, the General Assembly at its next regular session shall perform the duties specified in this amendment. But if such a General Assembly fails to perform these duties, then another commission, as specified in this Section 8, shall be appointed in like manner, with like duties, and power, and with like effect; and so forth until a valid senatorial and representative redistricting and reapportionment are secured in this 1950 decade and each decade thereafter. But there can be only one valid senatorial and representative redistricting and reapportionment during a particular decade."

In construing a constitutional amendment, we must read the amendment as a whole and attribute to each part a meaning that is consistent and harmonious with the amendment's overall intendment and purpose. (People ex rel. Wellman v. Washburn, 410 Ill. 322; People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. Feinberg, 348 Ill. 549.) Section 8 must thus be read in the context of sections 6 and 7. Chance v. Marion County, 64 Ill. 66.

The section first directs the General Assembly, in performing its duties under sections 6 and 7, to "redistrict and reapportion in a single legislative enactment." It next directs that the original redistricting and reapportionment of the legislature, and all subsequent redistrictings of the House of Representatives (but not of the Senate) shall be accomplished by a special commission if the legislature fails to redistrict: "If, however, the regular session of the General Assembly in 1955 as to both senatorial and representative districts or in 1963, or any ten years thereafter as to representative districts, fails by the first day of July to redistrict the state into such districts, then the redistricting shall be accomplished by a commission." (Italics supplied.)

Vesting the commission solely with the power to redistrict the House once the Senate has been redistricted comports with the design and structure of the General Assembly established by sections 6 and 7. After the first legislative redistricting of both Houses, sections 6 and 7 contemplate that only the House of Representatives' districts shall be changed. Senate districts remain immutable save by constitutional amendment.

The remaining provisions of section 8 must also be read in harmony with sections 6 and 7 and article IV's intended structure of the General Assembly. (See People ex rel. Nauert v. Smith, 327 Ill. 11; Chance v. Marion County, 64 Ill. 66.) Such a reading of the section dictates that its references to an election of the Senate at large were meant to become operative only if the legislature failed to redistrict the Senate in the first instance in 1955. The language of section 8 was never intended to and does not require Senators to run at large after the initial senatorial redistricting accomplished in 1955.

Our holding is not only consistent with article IV as a whole but it also avoids the anomalous result of a Senate that would be constituted in the 1965-1967 session of the General Assembly with half of its members elected from the State at large and with the other half of its members still representing the districts created by the 1955 Reapportionment Act. Our construction further precludes those voters whose Senators' terms have not yet expired from being given a right to vote for the other 29 members of the Senate. The constitution should whenever possible be construed to avoid such irrational, absurd, or unjust consequences. See People ex rel. Stickney v. Marshall, 1 Gilm. 672; People ex rel. Prindable v. New York Central Railroad Co. 397 Ill. 50; In re Estate of Abell, 395 Ill. 337; Harding v. Albert, 373 Ill. 94. See also Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368, 9 L.ed.2d 821.

Petitioners argue that the language of article IV was intended to force the Senate to run at large in the event the House was not redistricted in 1963 as a sanction or threat to force the members of the Senate to perform their duty to pass legislation redistricting the House. Such a strained construction does not meet the test of logic. The Attorney General has conceded in oral argument that such a constitutional reprisal would result in a transient inequality as between Senators, since it would affect only those Senators whose terms happen to expire in 1964. Moreover, if the petitioners' theory were correct, the punishment of an at-large election would be visited upon those Senators who did in fact pass a redistricting bill in 1963. H.B. 978, vetoed by the Governor on July 1, 1963; see Williams v. Kerner, ante. p. 11.

We do not believe article IV was intended to impose, because House redistricting did not occur, a sanction that would destroy the basic character of the legislature as it is contemplated by article IV. If the House of Representatives runs at large, its character as a House representing population remains unchanged. However, if half the Senate were also to be elected at large, the basic nature of the Senate as envisaged by article IV would be thwarted.

In considering petitioners' argument we have examined various contemporary publications discussing the reapportionment amendment. Some of these, issued by civic groups and of unknown authorship, are of no aid in determining the intent of the constitutional language. None of the materials we have examined indicate any consideration of the question of an election of the Senate at large after the enactment of a valid senatorial reapportionment. We, therefore, conclude that petitioners' reading of ...


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