Brief Fact Summary.
The appellant challenged the 1981 Act alleging that it had left a sufficiently adverse effect on the Democratic voters’ constitutionally protected rights to make a violation of equal protection. The District Court held that because any apportionment scheme unconstitutional.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
To succeed on election-related claims, plaintiffs must prove both intentional discrimination against an identifiable political group and actual discriminatory effect on that group.
If they serve no purpose other than to favor one segment--whether racial, ethnic, religious, economic, or political--that may occupy a position of strength at a particular point in time, or to disadvantage a politically weak segment of the community, they violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.View Full Point of Law
It was alleged that the 1981 Act left a sufficiently adverse effect on the Democratic voters’ constitutionally protected rights to make a violation of equal protection. 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.
Does the 1981 Act that involves reapportionment plan violate that equal protection?
No, because the District Court’s finding does not sufficiently prove that the electoral system at issue is arranged in a manner that will consistently degrade a voter’s or a group of voters’ influence on the political process as a whole. Thus, political gerrymandering cases are properly justiciable under the Equal Protection Clause.
Gerrymandering is “the deliberate and arbitrary distortion of district boundaries and populations for partisan or personal political purposes.” However, gerrymandering is also used loosely to describe the common practice of the party in power to choose the redistricting plan that gives it an advantage at the polls. To properly distinguish between the two usages, the proper question is whether the boundaries of the voting district have been distorted deliberately and arbitrarily to achieve illegitimate ends. Accordingly, plaintiffs must offer proof that bear directly on the fairness of a redistricting plan and evidence concerning population disparities tending to show vote dilution.
Political gerrymandering poses a nonjusticiable political question and there is no judicially manageable standards to resolve such an issue. Because the most easily measured indicia of political power relate solely to wining and losing elections, there is a high risk that the plurality’s attempts to qualify and condition the group right the Court has created will gradually subside in importance.
The District Court’s findings do not satisfy the threshold condition – providing evidence of continued frustration of the will of a majority of the voters or effective denial to a minority of voters of a fair change to influence the political process – to stating a cause of action. Relying on a single election to prove unconstitutional discrimination as the District Court did here is unsatisfactory. Voters sometimes prefer Democratic candidates and and sometimes Republican. The District Court, however, did not find that because of the 1981 Act the Democrats could not in one of the new elections secure a sufficient vote to take control of the legislature.