City of South Bend v. Kimsey

781 N.E.2d 683 (Ind. 2003)


The IN legislature added code that only applied to counties of 200K to 300K population. The provision allowed landowners to block annexation by a municipality, even if the municipality otherwise followed existing law. Only St. Joseph’s county fell within the provisions of the law. Then a law was passed in 2009 pertaining to all other counties – who must now have a 65% majority to defeat annexation. St. Joseph’s is the only county with the majority vote provision.
South Bend sought to annex Copperfield landowners who voted to overturn annexation. The city then filed a counterclaim, declaring the law invalid per the IN constitution.


Article IV, Section 23 – “prohibits special legislation where a general law can be made applicable.


Whether annexation law that impacts one county via a population classification violates the IN constitution.


Yes, “… permitting a majority of landowners in an affected area of that county to block annexation by a municipality” violates the law.
• The purpose of the provision is to limit specific laws that favor particular regions.
• Traditionally, the court has held that classifications by populations are to be upheld.
• As long as the classification is not unreasonable or arbitrary, it shall withstand the court’s scrutiny.
o As long as the classification is “reasonable and naturally inherent in the subject matter.”
o Reasonableness standard derived from privileges and immunities clause.
o In the past population classifications were reasonable – but a law passed that is too specific with its population so as to obviously classify one locality is unconstitutional and arbitrary.
• TEST – Special, if it “pertains to and affects a particular case, person, place, or thing as opposed to the general public.” General, if it applies “to all persons or places of a specified class throughout the state.” If general – determine whether it is applies generally throughout the state. If special, decide whether it is constitutional.
● Factors in the record determine whether a special law is constitutional.

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