Constitutional Law – Judicial Power – Power to Compel Fair Apportionment by the Legislature

At a general election on November 6, 1956, voters of the state of Washington approved by popular initiative a reapportionment of the legislature based upon political sub-divisions as described in the federal census of 1950. On December 6, 1956, the governor proclaimed the measure to be law and it was enrolled as chapter 5, Laws of 1957. At the regular 1957 session of the state legislature, chapter 289, revoking the initiative and calling for the use of the election precinct as the unit · of population for forming legislative districts, was passed by a vote of more than a two-thirds majority of the members in each house. It became law without the governor’s signature on June 12, 1957. An original proceeding was brought in the Supreme Court of Washington seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the secretary of state to perform his duties with reference to redistricting the state in accordance with chapter 5, Laws of 1957, rather than chapter 289, Laws of 1957. It was contended that the latter enactment contravened Article II, section 3 of the state constitution. Held, four justices dissenting, although the constitutionality of a reapportionment statute is subject to judicial review, the relator failed to meet the burden of proving the resulting disproportionateness between representation and distribution of population. State ex rel. O’Connell v. Meyers, (Wash. 1957) 319 P. (2d) 828.