Reapportionment–Nine Years into the “Revolution” and Still Struggling

Malapportioned legislative districts traditionally have inhibited the effective working of government at the federal, state, and local levels. By 1960, the population disparities among legislative districts had attained such great magnitude “that the integrity of representative government was in many instances endangered.” The underrepresented victims of malapportionment sought relief through the courts. Initially the Supreme Court, ever hesitant to enter the “political thicket,” declined to address itself to reapportionment controversies. This era of judicial inaction ended in 1962 with the Court’s ruling in Baker v. Carr, in which the plaintiffs overcame the formidable barrier posed by the political-question doctrine. In Baker, the Court granted individual voters standing to challenge antiquated electoral districts and thereby ignited the “reapportionment revolution.”