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Baker v. Carr

Citation. 369 U.S. 186, 82 S. Ct. 691, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663 (1962)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Plaintiffs, Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens (Plaintiffs), alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state’s General Assembly was virtually ignored. Plaintiffs’ suit detailed how Tennessee’s reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Legislative apportionment questions are generally justiciable.


A statute enacted in 1901 by the Tennessee legislature apportioned members of the state general assembly among the state’s 95 counties in accordance with the number of qualified voters in each county. Decades later, with the 1901 statute still in effect, substantial growth and a redistribution of the population resulted in an apportionment scheme that was “arbitrary and capricious.” Plaintiffs, arguing that their votes were thereby diluted, sued.


Were Plaintiffs’ claims non-justifiable, political questions?


Before the court is not a question (1) decided or to be decided by a political branch of the government coequal with this Court; (2) that touches upon foreign affairs; (3) whereupon the Court is being asked to make policy determinations for which judicially manageable standards are lacking.


Justice Felix Frankfurter (J. Frankfurter) wrote that the Guaranty Clause claims present quintessential political questions. What we have here is essentially a Guaranty Clause claim “masquerading under a different label.”


This case is about whether an issue can be heard. The merits of the case are not in issue

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