PSCI 3322 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Political Question, Fourteenth Amendment To The United States Constitution, Equal Protection Clause

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Baker V. Carr (1962)
Tennessee constitution required reapportionment in legislature, hadn't happened
since 1901
!60yrs since last reapportionment
!Some districts were under represented, some were massively over
represented
Supreme Court had recently tried a similar case, Colegrove V. Green
!Justice Frankfurter wrote the opinion, issue of reapportionment was a political
question
!Does not involve Guaranty Cause like Luther V. Borden
!Involved 14th amendment and equal protection cause
This case reverses Colegrove V. Green
!Frankfurter wrote the dissenting piece, gets so furious he suffers a stroke
!Stroke was so severe that he had to resign from the court
Hugo Black was the opposite of Frankfurter, was a plaintiff lawyer and largely
self- educated
The most effective opponent of Frankfurter
Gives us a broader definition of the Political Questions doctrine
Does the political questions doctrine apply to an equal protection claim involving "
reapportionment of state legislatures?
Political questions involve the relationship with coordinate branches, not states.
Do other branches have the constitutional authority? Is there a lack of judicially manageable
standards? Is there a need for a non-judicial policy decision? Would the Court have to show
disrespect to a coordinate branch? Or, would the Court be unable to make an objective
decision? Would there be embarrassment from numerous decisions from different decision
makers?
In the end, reapportionment was not seen as infringing these questions.
The case wasn't stepping on any toes in the federal system
Involved state government"
• There was a judicial standard that could be followed
One person one vote
Note: Texas also had gross misapportionment at this time, with one district being
"at large", a couple of districts having 600,000+, and some had ~220,000. Not completely "
uncommon
Political Questions Doctrine is a self-imposed limitation "
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