Baker v. Carr

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Baker v. Carr
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Citation 369 U.S. 186 (1962)
Date decided March 26, 1962
Overturned Colegrove v. Green


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

In 1962, the less-populous rural America was over-represented in state legislatures all over the country.

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

Procedural History

Baker was a voter in Tennessee. He sued Joe Carr, the Secretary of State for Tennessee ex officio.

Baker claimed that he as an urban voter wasn't equally represented in the state legislature; Baker claimed a violation of the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment.

The district court dismissed the case as a political question.


Whether an equal protection challenge to mal-apportionment 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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