Belling the Cat: The Story of Vieth V. Jubelier (Introduction)
Election Law Stories, pp. 179-231, (Joshua Douglas & Eugene Mazo eds., Foundation Press, 2016)
4 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 7, 2016
Vieth v. Jubelirer is the story of a compelling claim in search of a workable standard. Through study of this blockbuster opinion, this chapter explores the history, implications, and future of political gerrymandering. It reveals that the history of political gerrymandering in the United States is long, rich, and notorious — and characterized throughout by a deep analytical struggle. On the one hand, nearly everyone agrees that some reliance on political considerations in redistricting is both constitutionally permissible and practically unavoidable. On the other hand, nearly everyone agrees that reliance on political considerations, at an extreme, goes too far and poses serious constitutional concerns. The quandary that emerges relates to the Constitution’s dividing line — how to identify it, and how to apply it — and this quandary is what so utterly befuddled the Supreme Court in Vieth. The opinion that emerged was arguably unprecedented in its refusal either to identify a judicial standard or to foreclose the possibility of one, and it remains of great significance as a newly composed Supreme Court is asked to consider evolving claims in this vitally important area of the law.
Keywords: Election Law, Redistricting, Gerrymandering, Mapmaking, Congressional Districts, Legislative Districts, Partisanship
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