Mahan v. Howell


No. 71-364 Argued: December 12, 1972 --- Decided: February 21, 1973 [*]
MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Acting pursuant to the mandate of its newly revised state constitution, [n1] the Virginia General Assembly enacted statutes apportioning the State for the election of members of its House of Delegates [n2] and Senate. [n3] Two suits were brought challenging the constitutionality of the House redistricting statute on the grounds that there were impermissible population variances in the districts, that the multi-member districts diluted representation, [n4] and that the use of multi-member districts [p318] constituted racial gerrymandering. [n5] The Senate redistricting statute was attacked in a separate suit, which alleged that the city of Norfolk was unconstitutionally split into three districts, allocating Navy personnel "home-ported" in Norfolk to one district and isolating Negro voters in one district. Three three-judge district courts were convened to hear the suits pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. The suits were consolidated and heard by the four judges who variously made up the three three-judge panels.

The consolidated District Court entered an interlocutory order that, inter alia, declared the legislative reapportionment statutes unconstitutional and enjoined the holding of elections in electoral districts other than those established by the court's opinion. Howell v. Mahan, 330 F.Supp. 1138, 1150 (ED Va.1971). Appellant, the Secretary of the State Board of Elections and its members and the city of Virginia Beach, have appealed directly to this Court from those portions of the court's order, invoking our jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1253.


The statute apportioning the House provided for a combination of 52 single member, multi-member, and floater delegate districts from which 100 delegates would [p319] be elected. As found by the lower court, the ideal district in Virginia consisted of 46,485 persons per delegate, and the maximum percentage variation from that ideal under the Act was 16.4% -- the 12th district being overrepresented by 6.8% and the 16th district being underrepresented by 9.6%. [n6] The population ratio between these two districts was 1.18 to 1. The average percentage variance under the plan was +3.89%, and the minimum population percentage necessary to elect a majority of the House was 49.29%. Of the 52 districts, 35 were within 4% of perfection and nine exceeded a 6% variance from the ideal. With one exception, the delegate districts followed political jurisdictional lines of the counties and cities. That exception, Fairfax County, was allotted 10 delegates but was divided into two five-member districts.

Relying on Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, 394 U.S. 526 (1969), Wells v. Rockefeller, 394 U.S. 542 (1969), and Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), the District Court concluded that the 16.4% variation was sufficient to condemn the House statute under the "one person, one vote" doctrine. While it noted that the variances were traceable to the desire of the General Assembly to maintain the integrity of traditional county and city boundaries, and that it was impossible to draft district lines to overcome unconstitutional disparities and still maintain [p320] such integrity, it held that the State proved no governmental necessity for strictly adhering to political subdivision lines. Accordingly, it undertook its own redistricting and devised a plan having a percentage variation of slightly over 10% from the ideal district, a percentage it believed came "within passable constitutional limits as ‘a good faith effort to achieve absolute equality.' Kirkpatrick v. Preisler. . . ." Howell v. Mahan, 330 F.Supp. at 1147-1148.

Appellants contend that the District Court's reliance on Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, supra, and Wells v. Rockefeller, supra, in striking down the General Assembly's reapportionment plan was erroneous, and that proper application of the standards enunciated in Reynolds v. Sims, supra, would have resulted in a finding that the statute was constitutional.

In Kirkpatrick v. Preisler and Wells v. Rockefeller, this Court invalidated state reapportionment statutes for federal congressional districts having maximum percentage deviations of 5.97% and 13.1%, respectively. The express purpose of these cases was to elucidate the standard first announced in the holding of Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964), that

the command of Art. I, § 2, that Representatives be chosen "by the People of the several States" means that, as nearly as is practicable, one man's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another's.

Id. at 7-8 (footnotes omitted). And it was concluded that that command

permits only the limited population variances which are unavoidable despite a good faith effort to achieve absolute equality, or for which justification is shown.

Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, supra, at 531. The principal question thus presented for review is whether or not the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment likewise permits only "the limited population variances which are unavoidable despite a good [p321] faith effort to achieve absolute equality" in the context of state legislative reapportionment. [n7]

This Court first recognized that the Equal Protection Clause requires both houses of a bicameral state legislature to be apportioned substantially on a population basis in Reynolds v. Sims, supra. In so doing, it suggested that in the implementation of the basic constitutional principle -- equality of population among the districts -- more flexibility was constitutionally permissible with respect to state legislative reapportionment than in congressional redistricting. Id. at 578. Consideration was given to the fact that, almost invariably, there is a significantly larger number of seats in state legislative bodies to be distributed within a State than congressional seats, and that, therefore, it may be feasible for a State to use political subdivision lines to a greater extent in establishing state legislative districts than congressional districts while still affording adequate state-wide representation. Ibid. Another possible justification for deviation from population-based representation in state legislatures was stated to be:

[T]hat of insuring some voice to political subdivisions, as political subdivisions. Several factors make more than insubstantial claims that a State can rationally consider according political subdivisions some independent representation in at least one body of the state legislature, as long as the basic standard of equality of population among districts is maintained. Local governmental entities are frequently charged with various responsibilities incident to the operation of state government. In many States much of the legislature's activity involves the enactment of so-called local legislation, directed only [p322] to the concerns of particular political subdivisions. And a State may legitimately desire to construct districts along political subdivision lines to deter the possibilities of gerrymandering. . . .

Id. at 580-581. The Court reiterated that the overriding objective in reapportionment must be

substantial equality of population among the various districts, so that the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen in the State.

Id. at 579.

By contrast, the Court in Wesberry v. Sanders, supra, recognized no excuse for the failure to meet the objective of equal representation for equal numbers of people in congressional districting other than the practical impossibility of drawing equal districts with mathematical precision. Thus, whereas population alone has been the sole criterion of constitutionality in congressional redistricting under Art. I, § 2, broader latitude has been afforded the States under the Equal Protection Clause in state legislative redistricting because of the considerations enumerated in Reynolds v. Sims, supra. The dichotomy between the two lines of cases has consistently been maintained. In Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, for example, one asserted justification for population variances was that they were necessarily a result of the State's attempt to avoid fragmenting political subdivisions by drawing congressional district lines along existing political subdivision boundaries. This argument was rejected in the congressional context. But in Abate v. Mundt, 403 U.S. 182 (1971), an apportionment for a county legislature having a maximum deviation from equality of 11.9% was upheld in the face of an equal protection challenge, in part because New York had a long history of maintaining the integrity of existing local government units within the county. [p323]

Application of the "absolute equality" test of Kirkpatrick and Wells to state legislative redistricting may impair the normal functioning of state and local governments. Such an effect is readily apparent from an analysis of the District Court's plan in this case. Under Art. VII, §§ 2 and 3 of Virginia's Constitution, the General Assembly is given extensive power to enact special legislation regarding the organization of, and the exercise of governmental powers by, counties, cities, towns, and other political subdivisions. The statute redistricting the House of Delegates consistently sought to avoid the fragmentation of such subdivisions, assertedly to afford them a voice in Richmond to seek such local legislation.

The court's reapportionment, based on its application of Kirkpatrick and Wells, resulted in a maximum deviation of slightly over 10%, [n8] as compared with the roughly 16% maximum variation found in the plan adopted by the legislature. But to achieve even this limit of variation, the court's plan extended single and multi-member districts across subdivision lines in 12 instances, substituting population equality for subdivision representation. Scott County, for example, under the Assembly's plan was placed in the first district, and its population of 24,376 voted with the 76,346 persons in Dickinson, Lee, and Wise Counties for two delegates. The district thus established deviated by 8.3% from the ideal. The court transferred five of Scott County's enumeration districts, containing 6,063 persons, to the contiguous second district composed of the city of Bristol, and Smyth and Washington Counties, population 87,041. Scott County's representation was thereby substantially reduced in the first district, and all but nonexistent in the second district. [p324] The opportunity of its voters to champion local legislation relating to Scott County is virtually nil. The countervailing benefit resulting from the court's readjustment is the fact that the first district's deviation from the ideal is now reduced to 1.8%.

The city of Virginia Beach saw its position deteriorate in a similar manner under the court-imposed plan. Under the legislative plan, Virginia Beach constituted the 40th district and was allocated three delegates for its population of 172,106. The resulting underrepresentation was cured by providing a floterial district, the 42d, which also included portions of the cities of Chesapeake and Portsmouth. Under the court's plan, the 42d district was dissolved. Of its 32,651 persons that constituted the deviation from the ideal for the 40th district, 3,515 were placed in the 40th, and 29,136 were transferred to Norfolk's 39th district. The 39th district is a multi-member district that includes the 307,951 persons who make up the population of the city of Norfolk. Thus, those Virginia Beach residents who cast their vote in the 39th district amount to only 8.6% of that district's population. In terms of practical politics, Virginia Beach complains that such representation is no representation at all so far as local legislation is concerned, and that those 29,136 people transferred to the 39th district have in that respect been effectively disenfranchised.

We conclude, therefore, that the constitutionality of Virginia's legislative redistricting plan was not to be judged by the more stringent standards that Kirkpatrick and Wells make applicable to congressional reapportionment, but instead by the equal protection test enunciated in Reynolds v. Sims, supra. We reaffirm its holding that

the Equal Protection Clause requires that a State make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts, in both houses of its legislature, as nearly of equal [p325] population as is practicable.

377 U.S. at 577. We likewise reaffirm its conclusion that

[s]o long as the divergences from a strict population standard are based on legitimate considerations incident to the effectuation of a rational state policy, some deviations from the equal-population principle are constitutionally permissible with respect to the apportionment of seats in either or both of the two houses of a bicameral state legislature.

Id. at 579.

The asserted justification for the divergences in this case -- the State's policy of maintaining the integrity of political subdivision lines -- is not a new one to this Court. In Davis v. Mann, 377 U.S. 678, 686 (1964), it was noted:

Because cities and counties have consistently not been split or divided for purposes of legislative representation, multi-member districts have been utilized for cities and counties whose populations entitle them to more than a single representative. . . . And, because of a tradition of respecting the integrity of the boundaries of cities and counties in drawing district lines, districts have been constructed only of combinations of counties and cities and not by pieces of them. . . .

The then-existing substantial deviation in the apportionment of both Houses defeated the constitutionality of Virginia's districting statutes in that case, but the possibility of maintaining the integrity of political subdivision lines in districting was not precluded so long as there existed

such minor deviations only as may occur in recognizing certain factors that are free from any taint of arbitrariness or discrimination.

Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695, 710 (1964).

We are not prepared to say that the decision of the people of Virginia to grant the General Assembly the power to enact local legislation dealing with the political [p326] subdivisions is irrational. And if that be so, the decision of the General Assembly to provide representation to subdivisions qua subdivisions in order to implement that constitutional power is likewise valid when measured against the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The inquiry then becomes whether it can reasonably be said that the state policy urged by Virginia to justify the divergences in the legislative reapportionment plan of the House is, indeed, furthered by the plan adopted by the legislature, and whether, if so justified, the divergences are also within tolerable limits. For a State's policy urged in justification of disparity in district population, however rational, cannot constitutionally be permitted to emasculate the goal of substantial equality.

There was uncontradicted evidence offered in the District Court to the effect that the legislature's plan, subject to minor qualifications, "produces the minimum deviation above and below the norm, keeping intact political boundaries. . . ." (Defendants' Exhibit 8.) That court itself recognized that equality was impossible if political boundaries were to be kept intact in the process of districting. But it went on to hold that, since the State "proved no governmental necessity for strictly adhering to political subdivision lines," the legislative plan was constitutionally invalid. Howell v. Mahan, supra, at 1140. As we noted above, however, the proper equal protection test is not framed in terms of "governmental necessity," but instead in terms of a claim that a State may "rationally consider." Reynolds v. Sims, supra, at 580-581.

The District Court intimated that one reason for rejecting the justification for divergences offered by the State was its conclusion that the legislature had not, in fact, implemented its asserted policy, "as witness the division of Fairfax County." Howell v. Mahan, supra, [p327] at 1140. But while Fairfax County was divided, it was not fragmented. And had it not been divided, there would have been one ten-member district in Fairfax County, a result that this Court might we'll have been thought to disfavor as a result of its opinion in Connor v. Johnson, 402 U.S. 690, 692 (1971). The State can scarcely be condemned for simultaneously attempting to move toward smaller districts and to maintain the integrity of its political subdivision lines.

Appellees argue that the traditional adherence to such lines is no longer a justification since the Virginia constitutional provision regarding reapportionment, Art, II, § 6, supra, n. 1, neither specifically provides for apportionment along political subdivision lines nor draws a distinction between the standards for congressional and legislative districting. The standard in each case is described in the "as nearly as is practicable" language used in Wesberry v. Sanders, supra, and Reynolds v. Sims, supra. But, as we have previously indicated, the latitude afforded to States in legislative redistricting is somewhat broader than that afforded to them in congressional redistricting. Virginia was free as a matter of federal constitutional law to construe the mandate of its Constitution more liberally in the case of legislative redistricting than in the case of congressional redistricting, and the plan adopted by the legislature indicates that it has done so.

We also reject the argument that, because the State is not adhering to its tradition of respecting the boundaries of political subdivisions in congressional and State Senate redistricting, it may not do so in the case of redistricting for the House of Delegates. Nothing in the fact that Virginia has followed the constitutional mandate of this Court in the case of congressional redistricting, or that it has chosen in some instances to ignore political subdivision lines in the case of the State Senate, [p328] detracts from the validity of its consistently applied policy to have at least one house of its bicameral legislature responsive to voters of political subdivisions as such. [n9]

We hold that the legislature's plan for apportionment of the House of Delegates may reasonably be said to advance the rational state policy of respecting the boundaries of political subdivisions. The remaining inquiry is whether the population disparities among the districts that have resulted from the pursuit of this plan exceed constitutional limits. We conclude that they do not.

The most stringent mathematical standard that has heretofore been imposed upon an apportionment plan for a state legislature by this Court was enunciated in Swann v. Adams, 385 U.S. 440 (1967), where a scheme having a maximum deviation of 26% was disapproved. In that case, the State of Florida offered no evidence at the trial level to support the challenged variations with respect to either the House or Senate. Id. at 446. The Court emphasized there that "the fact that a 10% or 15% variation from the norm is approved in one State has little bearing on the validity of a similar variation in another State." Id. at 445. We therefore find the citations to numerous cases decided by state and lower [p329] federal courts to be of limited use in determining the constitutionality of Virginia's statute. The relatively minor variations present in the Virginia plan contrast sharply with the larger variations in state legislative reapportionment plans that have been struck down by previous decisions of this Court. See, e.g., Reynolds v. Sims, supra; Swann v. Adams, supra; and Kilgarlin v. Hill, 386 U.S. 120 (1967).

Neither courts nor legislatures are furnished any specialized calipers that enable them to extract from the general language of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment the mathematical formula that establishes what range of percentage deviations is permissible, and what is not. The 16-odd percent maximum deviation that the District Court found to exist in the legislative plan for the reapportionment of the House is substantially less than the percentage deviations that have been found invalid in the previous decisions of this Court. While this percentage may well approach tolerable limits, we do not believe it exceeds them. Virginia has not sacrificed substantial equality to justifiable deviations.

The policy of maintaining the integrity of political subdivision lines in the process of reapportioning a state legislature, the policy consistently advanced by Virginia as a justification for disparities in population among districts that elect members to the House of Delegates, is a rational one. It can reasonably be said, upon examination of the legislative plan, that it does in fact, advance that policy. The population disparities that are permitted thereunder result in a maximum percentage deviation that we hold to be within tolerable constitutional limits. We, therefore, hold the General Assembly's plan for the reapportionment of the House of Delegates constitutional and reverse the District Court's conclusion [p330] to the contrary. We also affirm Weinberg v. Prichard et al., No. 71-444, held pending this disposition. [n10]


The General Assembly divided the State into 40 single member senatorial districts. Under the plan, a portion of the city of Virginia Beach was added to the city of Norfolk and the entire area was divided into three single member districts, which the court below found conformed almost ideally, numerically, to the "one person, one vote" principle. But all naval personnel "home-ported" at the U.S. Naval Station, Norfolk, about 36,700 persons, were assigned to the Fifth Senatorial District because that is where they were counted on official census tracts. [n11] It was undisputed that only about 8,100 of such [p331] personnel lived aboard vessels assigned to the census tract within the Fifth District. The court had before it evidence that about 18,000 lived outside the Fifth District but within the Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas that, if true, indicated a malapportionment with respect to such personnel. [n12] Lacking survey data sufficiently precise to permit the creation of three single member districts more closely representing the actual population, the court corrected the disparities by establishing one multi-member district composed of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Districts, encompassing the city of Norfolk and a portion of Virginia Beach. Howell v. Mahan, supra.

Appellants charge that the District Court was not justified in overturning the districts established by the General Assembly, since the Assembly validly used census tracts in apportioning the area and that the imposition by the court of a multi-member district contravened the valid legislative policy in favor of single member districts. We conclude that under the unusual, if not unique, circumstances in this case the District Court did not err in declining to accord conclusive weight to the legislative reliance on census figures. That court justifiably found [p332] that with respect to the three single member districts in question, the legislative plan resulted in both significant population disparities and the assignment of military personnel to vote in districts in which they admittedly did not reside. Since discriminatory treatment of military personnel in legislative reapportionment is constitutionally impermissible, Davis v. Mann, supra, at 691, we hold that the interim relief granted by the District Court as to the State Senate was within the bounds of the discretion confided to it.

Application of interim remedial techniques in voting rights cases has largely been left to the district courts. Reynolds v. Sims, supra, at 585. The courts are bound to apply equitable considerations and in Reynolds it was stated that

[i]n awarding or withholding immediate relief, a court is entitled to and should consider the proximity of a forthcoming election and the mechanics and complexities of state election laws. . . .


The court below was faced with severe time pressures. The reapportionment plans were first forwarded to the Attorney General on March 1, 1971. By April 7, these three cases had been filed and consolidated. The first hearing was scheduled for May 24, but on May 7, the Attorney General interposed his objections pursuant to the Voting Rights Act. As a result, the May 24 hearing was largely devoted to arguing about the effect of such objections and after that hearing, the court directed the cases to be continued until June 15. It also postponed the primary elections, which had been set for June 8, until September 14. The cases were finally heard on June 16, and the court's interlocutory order was entered on July 2, just two weeks prior to the revised July 16 filing deadline for primary candidates.

Prior to the time the court acted, this Court had handed down Whitcomb v. Chavis, 403 U.S. 124 (1971), recognizing that multi-member districts were not per se [p333] violative of the Equal Protection Clause. The court conscientiously considered both the legislative policy and this Court's admonition in Connor v. Johnson, supra, that in fashioning apportionment remedies, the use of single-member districts is preferred. But it was confronted with plausible evidence of substantial malapportionment with respect to military personnel, the mandate of this Court that voting discrimination against military personnel is constitutionally impermissible, Davis v. Mann, supra, at 691-692, and the fear that too much delay would have seriously disrupted the fall 1971 elections. Facing as it did this singular combination of unique factors, we cannot say that the District Court abused its discretion in fashioning the interim remedy of combining the three districts into one multi-member district. [n13] We, therefore, affirm the order of that Court insofar as it dealt with the State Senate.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part.

MR. JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.

* Together with No. 71-373, City of Virginia Beach v. Howell et al., on appeal from the same court, and No. 71-444, Weinberg v. Prichard et al., on appeal from the same court but not argued. See n. 10 infra.

1. Article II, § 6, of the Revised Virginia Constitution provides:

Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district. The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 1971 and every ten years thereafter.

Any such reapportionment law shall take effect immediately and not be subject to the limitations contained in Article IV, Section 13, of this Constitution.

2. Va.Code. Ann. § 24.1-12.1 (Supp. 1972).

3. Va.Code Ann. § 24.1-14.1, as amended by c. 246, Acts of Assembly, June 14, 1971.

4. The reapportionment statutes were originally passed on March 1, 1971. On May 7, 1971, the Attorney General of the United States, acting pursuant to § 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 439, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c interposed objections to both the House and the Senate plans. Objections to the House plan were based on the use of five multi-member districts in certain metropolitan areas. Between his interposition and the trial of these cases, this Court decided Whitcomb v. Chavis, 403 U.S. 124 (1971), and the Attorney General's objections to the House plan were subsequently withdrawn. The objection of the Senate plan was cured by the amendment contained in c. 246, supra, n. 3.

5. The Court initially noted probable jurisdiction in the related case of Thornton v. Prichard, No. 71-553. This appeal primarily involved the question of whether or not the multi-member districts had a discriminatory effect on the rights of Negro voters under § 5 of the Voting Rights Act, supra, n. 4, as well as under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. On appellant's own motion, this appeal was dismissed, 409 U.S. 802.

6. These are the figures found by the District Court. Appellee DuVal argues that another method of computation involving Virginia's floterial districts results in a maximum deviation of 23.6%. The State and the city of Virginia Beach disputed that the deviation for the district relied on by DuVal for his figure was as much as claimed. The lower court made no finding on that dispute, concluding that the 16.4% variation was "sufficient to condemn the plan." 330 F.Supp. 1138, 1139-1140. We decline to enter this imbroglio of mathematical manipulation, and confine our consideration to the figures actually found by the court and used to support its holding of unconstitutionality.

7. In Connor v. Williams, 404 U.S. 549 (1972), we expressly re served decision on this issue.

8. The lower court concluded that its spread was only slightly over 7%, but in its arithmetic it did not consider two counties because of their asserted isolation from the remainder of the State. Howell v. Mahan, 330 F.Supp. 1138, 1147 n. 8.

9. Appellees also contend that it is clear the State has abandoned its traditional adherence to political subdivision boundaries, since it provided in the reapportionment statute that districts shall not change even though boundaries do as a result of annexation, for example. The short answer is that the General Assembly had the dual goal of maintaining such lines and providing for population equality. Reapportionment was only constitutionally required every 10 years between redistricting, and it was the Assembly's decision that, if during the 10 years between redistricting one of its goals should conflict with the other, the one based on known population variances should prevail. Such a determination does not render constitutionally defective an otherwise valid plan.

10. In this companion case, appellant Weinberg challenges the order of the District Court insofar as it sustains the validity of the 22d and 23d districts established in the House of Delegates apportionment statute. He argues that in court-ordered reapportionment, this Court ought to exercise its supervisory power to require more equality than would be required from legislative reapportionment. He also contends that the method of computation of floterial district deviations utilized by the District Court was erroneous. Since the House of Delegates apportionment statute is constitutional, and since the deviation for the 23d district under appellant's method of computation is only 3.9%, substantially lower than the approximately 1% deviation today upheld, we affirm those portions of the judgment appealed from in No. 71-444.

11. Such personnel were attached to ships "home-ported" at Norfolk and they were enumerated in Census Tract 000999, a location encompassing a series of ship piers. They were counted that way in accordance with instructions from the Director of the Bureau of the Census, George H. Brown. All ship commanders were directed to obtain an enumeration of all personnel assigned to their ships. Specifically, his instructions provided that ship commanders were to:

Include all married personnel in the enumeration even though they may be home with their families on 1 April. Wives of personnel assigned to vessels will be instructed not to include their husbands when they complete their census forms.

Thus, even though Navy personnel assigned to ships "home-ported" at Norfolk might have lived outside the Fifth Senatorial District with their wives and families, for census purposes they were assigned to that District.

The legislative use of this census enumeration to support a conclusion that all of the Navy personnel on a ship actually resided within the state senatorial district in which the ship was docked placed upon the census figures a weight that they were not intended to bear. The Navy itself used as a "rule of thumb" an estimate that 50% of such personnel occupied housing units on shore.

12. The District Court found that the remaining 10,000 lived off the base but within the Fifth Senatorial District.

13. We note that the order appealed from is interlocutory and the lower court has retained jurisdiction. There is nothing in its order to prevent the Virginia General Assembly from enacting an apportionment plan for the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Districts which differs from that ordered by the court, but is nonetheless consistent with constitutional requirements.