Beyond Individualism: The Group Right to Representation
The individualism that dominated the early reapportionment cases is only part of the story of the Court's search for a theory of representation. The judicial preference for unchanneled personal participatory forms of democracy has not proven inviolate. Since the 1960s, when the individual-regarding perceptions of political participation were at their zenith, the Court has shown an increased, albeit modest, awareness of the corporate dimensions of representation. In cases concerning redistricting, campaign financing, and the general right to fair representation, the Court has acknowledged the validity of collective forms of political participation, and the need to accommodate them constitutionally.
But as the Court explored the group facets of political representation, it has lacked a theoretically consistent guide to its analysis. Instead, it has extended constitutional protection to certain groups in response to political conditions and pressures, and not out of an understanding of groups as representative institutions. It has reduced representation to a "right," rather than understanding it as a melding of contending interests and preferences. It has demarcated spheres of specific constitutional rights for certain racial and political groups. Having given those rights to some, however, it is faced with other groups clamoring for similar treatment. Missing is a framework for analysis which will per