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Constitutional Law Keyed to Barnett
Baker v. Carr
Citation:369 U.S. 186 (1962)
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
After the federal government conducts a nationwide census every ten years, the Tennessee state constitution requires that legislative districts be redrawn. State law requires each district to include “substantially equal population.” Prior to this case, Tennessee had not redrawn the legislative district maps since 1901. In the intervening years, there were significant population shifts, and some districts had many more residents than other rural districts. Plaintiff Charles Baker, a Republican politician from Shelby County, Tennessee (where Memphis is located) filed suit in federal court, arguing argued that he was not receiving equal protection of the laws because Tennessee had not updated its legislative maps in the wake of population changes, leading to malapportionment of legislators between rural and urban districts. The State of Tennessee argued that apportionment of legislators was a non-justiciable political question because the issue of apportionment fell under the Guarantee Clause, and the Court had previously held (in Luther v. Borden) that claims arising under the Guarantee Clause were non-justiciable political questions that only Congress could resolve.
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