Representation, fairness of Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Each voter’s right, in a representative democracy, to have the same opportunity as every other voter to influence the outcome of elections for legislative representatives.

For many years the Supreme Court refused to become involved in what Justice Felix Frankfurter termed the “political thicket” of legislative apportionmentReapportionment. State legislatures were free to draw their own electoral district boundaries for both state and federal offices. In Baker v. Carr[case]Baker v. Carr[Baker v. Carr] (1962), Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., speaking for the Court, stated that failure of a legislature to reapportion its district to reflect population changes could be considered a violation of the equal protection clause. The Court defined the concept of fairness of representation in Gray v. Sanders[case]Gray v. Sanders[Gray v. Sanders] (1963) as the “one person, one vote” principle, which holds that each person’s vote should carry the same weight in an election. In Wesberry v. Sanders[case]Wesberry v. Sanders[Wesberry v. Sanders] (1964) and Reynolds v. Sims[case]Reynolds v. Sims[Reynolds v. Sims] (1964), it ruled the principle applicable to both federal and state elections. In Davis v. Bandemer[case]Davis v. Bandemer[Davis v. Bandemer] (1986), Shaw v. Reno[case]Shaw v. Reno[Shaw v. Reno] (1993), Bush v. Vera[case]Bush v. Vera[Bush v. Vera] (1996), and other cases, the Court used the one person, one vote principle, as well as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, to ban racial gerrymandering.ReapportionmentReapportionmentOne person, one vote concept

Baker v. Carr

Colegrove v. Green

Davis v. Bandemer

Elections

Gerrymandering

Gomillion v. Lightfoot

Gray v. Sanders

Reapportionment Cases

Reynolds v. United States

Vote, right to

Wesberry v. Sanders

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