Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties

By David K. Ryden | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Voting Rights and Political Representation in Constitutional Law: The Primacy of Individualism

The U.S. Supreme Court bears much responsibility for those structures and arrangements from which representation is expected to flow. It has had ample opportunity to don its hat as political theorist, and to consider issues of political representation. The explication in the first chapter of the intricacies of representation yields a standard for evaluating the Court's efforts. The Court's decisions reveal a distinct theory of representation. Unfortunately, it is a narrow one which bears little resemblance to the representational model.

The Court's theory of representation is most clearly illustrated in its attempts to define voting rights and to clarify the nature of representation stemming from those rights. The thirty- year history of federal judicial activity in voting rights, redistricting, and apportionment is characterized by two dominant themes. This chapter examines the primacy of individualism, which defined the first decade of reapportionment litigation. The Court focused almost exclusively on individual voting equality. It demonstrated little appreciation for the variable of collectives in the electoral equation, either in giving significance to individual voting rights or in engendering meaningful representation through participation. This one-dimensional view is a distant, much poorer

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