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Davis v. Bandemer

Law Dictionary
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Chemerinsky

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 478 U.S. 109, 106 S. Ct. 2797, 92 L. Ed. 2d 85, 1986 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States sustained Indiana’s 1981 state apportionment plan despite the claim that the apportionment diluted Democratic votes.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Political gerrymandering cases are properly justiciable under the Equal Protection Clause. However, a threshold showing of discriminatory vote dilution is required for a prima facie case of an equal protection violation. Thus, a group’s electoral power is not unconstitutionally diminished by the simple fact that an apportionment scheme makes it harder to win elections, and a failure of proportional representation alone does not constitute impermissible discrimination under equal protection.


Facts. The Republican-controlled state legislature adopted Indiana’s 1981 state apportionment plan which provided for state senate and house districts of substantially equal population. The Democrats claimed that the plan diluted their votes by using a mix of single and multimembered districts and gerrymandering district lines. The District Court held that the political gerrymandering claim is justiciable and that the challengers had proved an equal protection violation. Further, the District Court held that because any apportionment scheme that purposely prevents proportional representation is unconstitutional, Democratic voters need only show that their proportionate voting influence has been adversely affected.

Issue. Whether the political gerrymandering claim is justiciable.
Whether the District Court’s legal and factual basis for its conclusion that the 1981 apportionment was unconstitutional was the correct standard. Specifically, whether its holding that because any apportionment scheme that purposely prevents proportional representation is unconstitutional, Democratic voters need only show that their proportionate voting influence has been adversely affected is the correct standard.
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