Gerrymandering Issue Essay

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Given the legal nature of the gerrymandering issue, there is an extensive legal background on the issue since the ninetieth century. This literature review gives the more relevant legal background regarding Pennsylvania’s current situation, as well as background information on the novel ways that policy-makers and researchers measure political gerrymandering. Keeping the legal background and measurement procedures in context, there are also legislative reforms and commission procedures that states have taken in order to ameliorate the problems that arise from gerrymandering.

A. Constitutionality & Legal Background

The Pennsylvania State Constitution contains relevant clauses that must be applied to any redistricting plan. These are important
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Carr (1962). Plaintiff Charles Baker, mayor of Millington, Tennessee, challenged the Tennessee General Assembly for not adhering to the requirement to redraw legislative districts every ten years. The Supreme Court was to decide whether the redistricting of state legislative districts is a “political question” or an issue that can be resolved by federal courts. In American Constitutional law, the political question doctrine is closely linked to the concept of justifiability, or in other words, whether a court system should have the authority to here a particular case in the matter. In this particular case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the redistricting of state legislative districts does not qualify as a political question. This ruling paved way for another landmark case, Reynolds v. Sims (1964), which was a court ruling in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the election of any chamber of a state legislature the electoral districts must be roughly equal in population. This was a landmark case in that “one-person, one-vote” is protected by the Equal Protection Clause, as part of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This “one-person, one-vote” rule says that legislative voting districts must be the same in population size so that one person’s voting power ought to be roughly equivalent to another person’s within the state. This rule is a key foundation to measuring the constitutionality for the gerrymandering of state legislative
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