Courts, Congress, and Public Policy, Part II: The Impact of the Reapportionment Revolution on Urban and Rural Interests

11 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2007

See all articles by Jeffrey R. Lax

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Abstract

Before the "reapportionment revolution," decades of precedent held that the legislative district boundaries were not justiciable, no matter how little the districts reflected population distributions. In Baker v. Carr, a majority of justices declared for the first time that courts could indeed address these disparities. This Article evaluates the impact of these decisions on legislative politics and policymaking. We examine three indicators of change. In the first, we test the impact of two key reapportionment cases, Reynolds v. Sims and Wesberry v. Sanders, on policies favoring rural and urban interests (using event study methodology). Our analysis shows that these decisions shifted the benefits of public policy toward urban interests and away from rural interests. The second effect of reapportionment that we study is the relationship of Southern Democrats to the rest of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate. In our third test, we examine the political changes wrought by a similar set of cases affecting the California legislature.

Keywords: courts, congress, public policy, law, impact, reapportionment, elections

Suggested Citation

Lax, Jeffrey R. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Courts, Congress, and Public Policy, Part II: The Impact of the Reapportionment Revolution on Urban and Rural Interests. Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 199-218, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=970522

Jeffrey R. Lax (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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