Baker v. Carr

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Baker v. Carr
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 369 U.S. 186 (1962)
Date decided March 1962


Prior to this case, state legislatures weren't organized by populations.[1]

In Colegrove v. Green, (1946), SCOTUS claimed that redistributing is a political question. SCOTUS won't decide on re-districting.

Procedural History

This case originated in Tennessee.


Whether an equal protection challenge to malapportionment of state legislatures is a non-justiciable political question.


Re-districting is a justiciable issue for SCOTUS.

Apportionment cases can involve no federal constitutional right except one resting on the guaranty of a republican form of government, and complaints based on that clause have been held to present political questions which are non-justiciable.


"One person, one vote"

Issues involving political questions:

  • a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department
  • a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it
  • the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly nonjudicial discretion
  • the impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government
  • an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made
  • the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question



The present case involves all the elements which have made the Guarantee Clause cases non-justiciable.

Case Text Links

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