Some Comments on the Reapportionment Cases

Any appraisal of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the legislative reapportionment cases must necessarily distinguish between the basic policy ingredients and social consequences of the decisions on the one hand, and the question whether the results were reached by a proper exercise of judicial power on the other. Respecting the first of these considerations, I have no difficulty identifying the social advantages accruing from these decisions. Because of the stress on the population principle, the decisions will afford a greater voice to urban interests, will make the legislative process more responsive to current needs of particular concern to urban dwellers, will force the states to adhere more faithfully to standards that, in part at least, they have already set for themselves, and, in vitalizing the processes of state government, hopefully will contribute to the strength and integrity of our federal system. These plus considerations must be weighed against the risk that the kind of apportionment now required by judicial mandate will subject various kinds of minority interests to the overriding concerns of well-organized majorities and against the further consideration that the adoption of a single rule of apportionment, frozen into the Constitution by judicial interpretation, may preclude consideration of other and varied schemes that are responsive to the extensive, expert thinking that has gone into the subject. At this point, however, it may be conceded that the immediately discernible social advantages accruing from the decisions outweigh the more speculative disadvantages.