Arundel history

December 04, 2005

1965: reapportionment tussle

On Dec. 2, 1965, a citizens' committee contended that the Maryland legislature's reapportionment bill, which would retain one senator for each county, "cannot pass constitutional muster" under Supreme Court rulings.

"It contains numerous and substantial departures from the controlling requirement that representation ... must be apportioned on a substantially equal population basis," the Maryland Committee for Fair Representation said.

The committee urged the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to declare invalid the reapportionment bill and uphold a rival plan that would create a 43-member Senate based more closely on population and combining smaller counties into senatorial districts.

The two conflicting bills had been enacted by the legislature at a special session on reapportionment called by Gov. J. Millard Tawes in October 1965. The governor signed both bills to leave the final determination to the courts, although the attorney general had advised him that the one-senator-a-county plan was "clearly unconstitutional."

Maryland was under a Supreme Court mandate to reapportion both houses of its legislature before the 1966 elections.

Today, the General Assembly has 47 senators and 141 delegates elected from 47 districts.

[Source: The Sun and Jean Packard, Sun library researcher]

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