Of Squares and Uncouth Twenty-Eight-Sided Figures: Reflections on Gomillion v. Lightfoot After Half a Century

Washburn Law Journal, Forthcoming

Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-3

15 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2011 Last revised: 2 Mar 2011

See all articles by Jonathan L. Entin

Jonathan L. Entin

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Abstract

This essay, part of a symposium on political powerlessness and constitutional interpretation, focuses on Gomillion v. Lightfoot, which rejected an attempt to remove virtually every African American registered voter from the city limits of Tuskegee, Alabama. The paper examines why and how the case arose in a community with an unusually large and independent black middle class that had long placed high priority on voting rights as well as the impact of the ruling not only on political life in Tuskegee but also on the ruling in Baker v. Carr that launched the reapportionment of legislative bodies around the nation. The discussion also considers the legacy of Gomillion in the continuing debate about the meaning of voting rights in cases involving majority-minority districts.

Keywords: Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339 (1960), Act. No. 140, 1957, Ala. Acts 185, Civil rights. Due process, Equal Protection Clause, Gerrymandering (Alabama), 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment , U.S. v. Alabama, Voting rights

JEL Classification: K10, K39

Suggested Citation

Entin, Jonathan L., Of Squares and Uncouth Twenty-Eight-Sided Figures: Reflections on Gomillion v. Lightfoot After Half a Century. Washburn Law Journal, Forthcoming; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1762225

Jonathan L. Entin (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3321 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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