Political Gerrymandering and the Courts

By Bernard Grofman | Go to book overview

4
Bandemer's Gap: Gerrymandering and Equal Protection

Daniel Hays Lowenstein

In 1962, the decision in Baker v. Carr (369 U.S. 186 ( 1962)) had been "long-awaited," and the "alarums and excursions that ensued in the legal-political world exceeded anything evoked by a Supreme Court decision since 1954" ( McCloskey, 1962). Two years later, Reynolds v. Sims (377 U.S. 533 ( 1964)) and its companion cases constituted "one of the most far-reaching series of decisions in the history of American constitutionalism" ( Dixon, 1964). "No cases in modern times . . . more sharply provoked . . . disagreement" than did Wesberry v. Sanders (376 U.S. 1 ( 1964)) and Reynolds v. Sims ( Auerbach, 1964).

By comparison with these redistricting blockbusters of the 1960s, Davis v. Bandemer (106 S. Ct. 2797 ( 1986)), the Supreme Court's entree into partisan gerrymandering, has been a bust. It made the front pages for a day or so, but even then it was overshadowed by the Georgia sodomy case ( Bowers v. Hardwick, 106 S. Ct. 2841 ( 1986)) issued the same day. Whatever portion of the public had noticed the gerrymandering case soon forgot about it. Even in the academic journals, as of this writing, attention has been limited to the annual Harvard Law Review Supreme Court note, a handful of additional student comments ( Anderson, 1989; Crouch, 1987; Holcombe, 1987), commentary by a Republican National Committee staff attorney ( Hess, 1987), and a lengthy article by a political scientist ( Alfange, 1986). 1 The present volume itself no doubt evidences some interest in the subject, but most of us who have contributed are card-carrying reap-

____________________
Acknowledgments. I am grateful to my colleague, Jon Varat, and to the editor of this volume, Bernard Grofman, for their helpful suggestions.

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