Michigan Legal Milestones
12. One Person—One Vote

August "Gus" Scholle, then president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, was troubled by the fact that his Oakland County state senate district in 1958 held more than 12 times the number of persons of an outstate district—yet each district elected one senator, meaning his vote was worth less, proportionately, than that of a voter in the outstate district. Other district disparities were almost as great, giving rural areas disproportional influence in the legislature.

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Complete Text on Milestone Marker

One Person—One Vote

August "Gus" Scholle, then president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, was troubled by the fact that his Oakland County state senate district in 1958 held more than 12 times the number of persons of an outstate district—yet each district elected one senator, meaning his vote was worth less, proportionately, than that of a voter in the outstate district. Other district disparities were almost as great, giving rural areas disproportional influence in the legislature.

In 1959, Scholle filed a novel and historic lawsuit contending that such disparities violated the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment equal protection clause, which he believed affirms the right of each citizen to substantially equal voting power. Although the Michigan Supreme Court denied relief in 1960, the Court later ruled favorable to Scholle's position in 1962 and again in 1964 after U.S. Supreme Court remands following that Court's decisions in cases arising in Tennessee and Alabama.

The Scholle case played a leading role in creating the legal principle that state legislative districts must be apportioned on a "one person-one vote" basis.

Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and the Oakland County Bar Association, 1990.