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Ball v. James

United States Supreme Court
451 U.S. 355 (1981)


The Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (the Salt River District or SRD) stored and delivered untreated water to the owners of land comprising 236,000 acres in central Arizona. The SRD sold electricity in order to subsidize its water operations. The state legislature permitted the SRD to limit voting for its directors to voters, otherwise regularly qualified under state law, who owned land within the district, and to apportion voting power among those landowners according to the number of acres owned. James (plaintiff) brought a lawsuit in federal district court against Ball (defendant), a district official, on behalf of a class of voters in the district that either owned no land or less than one acre of land. James argued that the voting scheme based on property ownership violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The district court upheld the voting scheme as constitutional and dismissed the complaint, but the court of appeals reversed. Ball appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

Concurrence (Powell, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

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