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South Texas College of Law Houston
Todd, Robert

Representational Structures
Traditional factors in drawing district lines
Future growth
The bigger a city is the larger its extra-territorial jurisdiction is (extends 50 miles outside city)
Natural barrier
Ship channel, bayous
Man-made boundaries
Railroad tracks, ISDs,
When districting will want to keep these things intact and the residents together
Communities of interest
Avoiding voter confusion
Protect the incumbents
Political Question Doctrine
Baker v. Carr
Historically the court had been hands-off with respect to districts
Now district lines are drawn up by members of the legislature, not the executive branch
Federal congressional lines are drawn up by the states b/c it is in the constitution
One person one vote is the general rule on drawing district lines
Must be drawn up so that voting rights are not diluted
People have the right to vote for the person of their choice and can attack the districting if it dilutes their vote so that it is ineffective against the rest of the district
SupCt determined that the district drawing issue is not a political question, thus deferring to the legislature
Criteria for determining whether an issue is a political question
There is a textually demonstrable commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department
Lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the issue
This is the big one
Impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion
Where should money be spent
There is an impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government
An unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made
One person one vote
The potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question
o        The House of Representatives
·         Westbury v. Sanders
§         Required districts to have roughly equal numbers of persons to ensure “one person, one vote”
·         Struck down districts that had twice the population as others
·         Karcher v. Daggett –
§         The ratio between large

r discriminatory impact or effect in line-drawing is illegal. Now, you can challenge any little thing that could have discriminatory impact or effect. V.R.A. was passed to rectify past discrimination. Consider the VRA in two areas: Voting and Political Gerrymandering.
·          VRA required pre-clearance by DOJ of any change to voting procedures in any state affected by it
§         § 2 – any electoral procedure with a discriminatory result or purpose is outlawed
§         § 5 – pre-clearance provision
·         Any change at all that might have a discriminatory result or purpose must be pre-cleared by DOJ before it can be implemented. (e.g., change in polling location, change from paper ballots to electronic ballots, campaign finance laws, change to rules for names on ballots)
·         Most at-large voting schemes have been discontinued (exception at-large council members, railroad commissioners, judges)