The petitioners are five registered voters of Ward 4 in Boston. Two are Democrats and three are Republicans. They include members of the elected Republican and Democratic ward committees. They seek in the county court (see St. 1967, c. 877, § 6) a writ of mandamus (a) to command the respondent commissioners to apportion Suffolk County into representative districts (the commissioners
The commissioners, by St. 1967, c. 877, were charged with assigning (upon the basis of the 1965 State Decennial Census) all of Suffolk County to representative districts and distributing a total of thirty-two representatives among the districts to be designated. The "optimum population per representative" according to the census is 22,063. The commissioners established the districts shown in the margin.
For at least thirty-five years prior to 1963, Ward 4 had been a separate representative district. Two Democrats and twelve Republicans were elected from Ward 4 in the seven elections from 1950 to 1962, in all but one instance by close votes. For several years prior to 1963, Ward 10 had been combined with Ward 11 to form the Tenth Suffolk District. From 1950 to 1962 that district had elected only Democrats as representatives, all by substantial margins.
In 1963, a special commission (St. 1963, c. 666) conducted a reapportionment of representative districts for Suffolk County. Four of five members of that special commission were Democrats. Ward 4, theretofore a double representative district, was joined with Ward 10 to form a triple representative district. Each of the three Boston wards which in 1962 had elected a Republican representative, was joined in 1963 with another ward to form a multi-representative district. In addition to the combination of Wards 4 and 10, Ward 3 was then joined with Ward 5, and Ward 9 was combined with Ward 12.
In 1964 and 1966, the representatives elected from the new combined Fourth Suffolk District (Wards 4 and 10) were all Democrats, either elected by substantial margins or without Republican opposition. All persons elected were from Ward 10. None lived in Ward 4.
The petitioners disclaim any objection to (a) whatever population disparities may exist under the commissioners' 1968 report,
The petitioners' contentions are directed primarily to the commissioners' failure to establish Ward 4 as a separate district to elect a single representative. They point out that Ward 4 by itself has a population of 20,055, which is much more (and much closer to the "optimum" figure of 22,063) than the population (16,381) of the single representative Second Suffolk District (Charlestown) and about the same as that (20,761) of the Third Suffolk District (Ward 3), which also has a single representative. They contend that there was as much reason for setting up Ward 4 as a single-member district as for making Wards 2 and 3 single-member districts. If the commissioners had done so, Ward 10 (with a population of 23,297), as a single-representative district, would then have been closer to the "optimum" population of 22,063 than Wards 2 and 13 (fn. 2) and nearly as close as Ward 3.
Article 21 of the Articles of Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth, as appearing in art. 71 of the Amendments, provides, among other things, that, after "the number of representatives to which each county shall be entitled" is determined by the general court and after the State Secretary has certified this number to the appropriate
In St. 1967, c. 877, § 1, it is stated to be the legislative intent that representatives "shall be apportioned in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner and that the districts shall be so established that they will be as nearly equal in population as is practicable." In the apportionment, there is to be incorporated "the principle of the so-called `one-man, one-vote' standard laid down by the Supreme Court of the United States in recent decisions." After discussion of certain special difficulties presented by the 1968 reapportionment, § 1 provides "that although each district cannot possibly be drawn containing exactly the same number of inhabitants, nevertheless any deviation from the population of the perfect district shall be minimal and within reasonable and constitutional bounds, so that all the inhabitants of the commonwealth will be afforded equal protection of the law without any invidious discrimination against any person or group" (emphasis supplied).
In Brophy v. Suffolk County Apportionment Commrs. 225 Mass. 124, 127, the opinion mentioned the existence of "obvious objections which may be urged against combinations of wards into double or triple districts." Reference to such objections was made again in Graham v. Special Commrs. of Suffolk County, 306 Mass. 237, 246-248. In Vigneault v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, ante, 362, 366, it was suggested that following existing political subdivision lines (as was done in the circumstances there considered) may "restrict the possibility of partisan gerrymandering." See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 578-579.
In this Commonwealth, the creation of two or three-member districts has not been held to be a violation of constitutional
The Massachusetts constitutional and statutory provisions already mentioned and the decisions of this court have
We have weighed the petitioners' contentions in effect (1) that the commissioners, reasonably and without violation of any constitutional or statutory provision, could have made Ward 4 and Ward 10 separate one-member districts; (2) that Wards 2 and 3, although having a population comparable to that of Ward 4, were made separate single-member districts; and (3) that there is some inconsistency between the commissioners' action (fn. 3, supra) in separating Wards 3 and 5 (combined in 1963) and their 1968 action leaving Wards 4 and 10 together. These, however, are matters of a general type which our decisions, already cited, have treated as calling for the exercise of the commissioners' judgment.
The apportionment process is primarily a matter for legislative consideration. If the process has been carried out reasonably and without arbitrary conduct, this court has not interfered with the judgment of those entrusted with the task by the Legislature, and has recognized that the commissioners have a substantial range of discretion in matters such as here are criticised. Every reasonable presumption has been made in favor of the commissioners' report. See Brophy v. Suffolk County Apportionment Commrs. 225 Mass. 124, 128-129; Attorney Gen. v. Secretary of the Commonwealth, 306 Mass. 25, 34-35. We think the agreed facts insufficient to establish that the commissioners have exceeded their discretionary powers under the appropriate constitutional and statutory provisions, or that there has
The petition is to be dismissed.
Suffolk Population Representative Number of per District Number Wards in Boston Population Representatives Representative 1 1 (East Boston) 39,792 2 19,896 2 2 (Charlestown) 16,381 1 16,381 3 3 20,761 1 20,761 4 4[*] and 10[**] 43,352 2 21,676 5 5 22,715 1 22,715 6 6 and 7 46,688 2 23,344 7 8, 9, and 12 54,034 2 27,017 8 11 and 19 51,445 2 25,723 9 13 28,852 1 28,852 10 14 46,751 2 23,376 11 15 22,714 1 22,714 12 16 and 17 59,340 3 19,780 13 18 57,548 3 19,183 14 20 45,065 2 22,533 15 21 and 22 60,888 3 20,296 [*] population 20,055 [**] population 23,297 Areas outside Boston 16 Chelsea, Wards 1, 2, 4 and 5 19,919 1 19,919 17 Revere complete and Chelsea Ward 3 49,573 2 24,787 18 Winthrop complete 20,398 1 20,398