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Quinn v. Millsap

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United States Supreme Court

491 U.S. 95

Quinn  v.  Millsap

No. 88-1048  Argued: April 25, 1989. --- Decided: June 15, 1989


Article VI, § 30, of the Missouri Constitution (hereafter § 30) provides that the governments of the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County may be reorganized by a vote of the electorate upon a plan of reorganization drafted by a "board of freeholders." The State Circuit Court interpreted "freeholder" as not entailing a condition of property ownership and, with only a tentative discussion of the Equal Protection Clause, entered a declaratory judgment that § 30 is valid both on its face and as applied to the present board of freeholders. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed, but relied exclusively on its interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause and held that that Clause had no relevancy because the board does not exercise general governmental powers.


1. This Court has jurisdiction over the appeal. Pp. 101-104.

2. The Missouri Supreme Court's ruling that the Equal Protection Clause had no relevancy to the case because the board of freeholders exercises no general governmental power reflects a significant misreading of this Court's precedents. The fact that the board serves only to recommend a plan of reorganization to the voters and does not enact any laws of its own cannot immunize it from equal protection scrutiny. Pp. 104-106.

3. A land-ownership requirement for appointment to the board of freeholders violates the Equal Protection Clause, Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346, 90 S.Ct. 532, 24 L.Ed.2d 567 (1970); Chappelle v. Greater Baton Rouge Airport District, 431 U.S. 159, 97 S.Ct. 2162, 52 L.Ed.2d 223 (1977); it is a form of invidious discrimination to require land ownership of all appointees to a body authorized to propose reorganization of local government. Pp. 106-109.

757 S.W.2d 591 (Mo.1988), reversed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Kevin M. O'Keefe, St. Louis, Mo., for appellants.

Simon Bolivar Buckner, IV, Jefferson City, Mo., for appellees.

Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).