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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 largest and smallest of districts must be very miniscule
§ Scrutinize numbers to determine if lines drawn to achieve a particular result (0.64% was enough to be re-drawn)
Districts need to be nearly exact
§ There is no minimum exception and there must not be any variance
·         Reynolds v. Simms
§ Same ratio requirement applies to drawing districts for state legislature and local governments
o    Race and Electoral Structures
·         Originally had to show intent
·         City of Mobile v. Bolden
§ Mobile population was made up of 1/3 blacks
·         Had at-large elections for all council positions but there was never a black person elected
·         Court found a justiciable question
§ Burden of proof on P to show plan was conceived as a purposeful devise to dilute voting strength (intent to discriminate); a disproportionate impact is not enough to show intent, and thus not a violation of the constitution.
·         Have elected officials making statements that show intent, history of discrimination
§ Racially neutral voting schemes do not violate the constitution as long as there is no discriminatory intent -> overruled essentially by the voting rights act
o    Voting Rights Act
·         Any test or device that is a prerequisite to voting are outlawed
·         Says that either 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)
§ Thornburg v. Gingles – if created or kept in place to keep minority voting groups out of power, at large voting scheme will be invalid
·         In order to redistrict, must submit district lines under §2 and then to attack the lines, must pass the following test
§ The minority group must show a § 2 violation by proving:
·         They are politically cohesive (they vote as a block)
·         Sufficiently large and geographically compact enough to constitute a ma

people have something in common.
Must look into legislative purpose. Must have extraordinary justification (compelling state interest).
No inquiry into legislative purpose is needed if racial classification is express
Express or neutral racial classification (unexplainable on grounds other than race) is presumed to be invalid unless there is an extraordinary justification (ie, compelling state interest)
Compelling state interests include: eradicating effects of past discrimination, remedial action, compliance w/ VRA
They specifically allowed race into the equation and it did in fact predominate since the DOJ told them to redraw the lines
Court said thought that complying w/ voting rights act is not always a defense to racial gerrymandering and is not constitutional
Reverse racial gerrymandering is ok only when race doesn’t predominate
It doesn’t predominate when race doesn’t matter
If you say the district was drawn with racial classifications – the plan is automatically suspect
No inquiry into the purpose of the drawing up of the district
It doesn’t matter if you are drawing it up for good reasons or bad reasons
Subject to 14th and 15th
In the end, you can consider race, but you can’t consider it too much
If race predominates, then it is a violation
o    Eligibility to Serve in the Legislature
·         Powell v. McCormack
§ Facts: Powell investigated and indicted. His bad behavior reflected badly on the other members. They want to exclude him from taking seat. 2/3 of the house votes to exclude him from being sworn in. Powell filed suit.
§ Court said that the source of law for qualifications is the Constitution and you cant add qualifications for office without amending the Constitution first
·         Congress cannot simply override the Constitution
§ Bottom line is that the Const is the source of the law and if you want to change it to make it not ok to be a felon, then you need to amendment the Constitution