State ex rel. Sonneborn v. Sylvester is the first case decided by a state court of last resort on the issue of equal representation for boards of governmental bodies below the level of the state legislature since the United States Supreme Court held in Baker v. Carr that state malapportionment violates the equal protection clause of the federal constitution and presents a justiciable controversy. In so holding, the Supreme Court abandoned its previous position that malapportionment of state legislatures was a political question which only Congress or the President was competent to decide. The subsequent decisions of Gray v. Sanders and Wesberry v. Sanders further implement Baker v. Carr with the additional principles of "one person, one vote" and equal population in all districts. A series of decisions affecting six states established the further requirement of equal population in all districts for both houses of a bicameral legislature. Shortly thereafter, this requirement was applied to several other states. The holding in Sonneborn merely extends the principle of equal representation to the county level. The purpose of this note is to discuss the questions presented in Sonneborn, to reflect on the Supreme Court's probable attitude toward this case, and to examine the possible ramifications of the case in Nebraska.
Budd B. Bornhoft Jr.,
Reapportionment—Extension of Equal Representation to the County Level—State ex rel. Sonneborn v. Sylvester, 26 Wis. 2d 43, 132 N.W.2d 249 (1965),
44 Neb. L. Rev. 850
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