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The 1970s: 1972
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A. Ludlow Kramer photo A. Ludlow Kramer
Secretary of State, 1965-1974

Prince v. Kramer

George Prince was a Mercer Island attorney who filed suit against the state of Washington after the Legislature failed to redistrict during the 1971 session. In this case, Prince specifically requested that the court exercise jurisdiction over redistricting, thus providing a remedy when the Legislature did not fulfill its duties. The three-judge panel (which included District Court Judge William Beeks, who had written the majority opinion in Thigpen v. Meyers (1964)) was reluctant to take such a step. They gave the Legislature one more chance, ordering members to complete a redistricting measure by February 1972. The justices warned that they would redistrict themselves if the Legislature failed to meet this last deadline. Despite the court's order, the legislators could not agree on any proposals, and the session ended with no acceptable redistricting plan. Thus, in their April 1972 ruling on Prince v. Kramer, the justices took over the redistricting effort and chose a special master to draw new legislative and congressional boundaries for the state.


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