To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library




Baker v. Carr

Citation. 369 U.S. 186, 82 S. Ct. 691, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663 (1962)
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here

Brief Fact Summary.

The General Assembly had failed to reapportion the states voting districts since 1901, despite changes in population. Tennessee voters sought an injunction against further elections and a reapportionment of voting districts.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The political question doctrine requires courts to refuse to adjudicate certain issues that do not lend themselves to judicial standards or remedies.


Tennessee voters claimed their equal protection rights were being violated due to a debasement of their votes. This claim was based on the fact that voting districts had not been reapportioned since 1901, despite population growth and redistribution since then. Additionally, they claimed redress through changes in state law was impossible due to the election of the present legislature under the malapportioned voting districts. They sought an injunction against further elections and reapportionment. The lower court denied relief, finding the claim to be a nonjusticiable political question.


Was the lower court correct in determining that a state’s voter apportionment scheme was a political question, and therefore nonjusticiable?


No. Judgment reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Based on the “political question” doctrine, certain cases are nonjusticiable. The political question doctrine is essentially based on the separation of powers. These cases generally fall under the following criteria:
i. A textual commitment of the issue in the Constitution to another branch of government.
ii. An inability to resolve the issue based on judicially discoverable or manageable standards.
iii. An inability to decide the issue without making an initial policy determination that is not for judicial discretion.
iv. An inability of the court to make an independent resolution of the issue without demonstrating a lack of respect due to another branch of government.
v. An exceptional need to not question a political decision already made.
vi. The possibility of embarrassment due to different pronouncements by various departments on the same question.
Cases based upon the Guaranty Clause, Art. IV, Section: 4, of the United States Constitution (Constitution) have traditionally been deemed nonjusticiable due to the political question doctrine. The Guaranty Clause guarantees a republican form of government. However, the majority determined this claim falls under the Equal Protection Clause. Also, since the claim does not violate any of the other political question criteria, it is justiciable.


The current case involves all of the elements that have made previous claims under the Guarantee Clause nonjusticiable. Attempting to invoke the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause does not change the nature of the controversy. Therefore, the courts should not determine this case.


Constitutional questions are rarely found to be nonjusticiable, partially due to current limitations on standing.

Create New Group

Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following