Baker v. Carr


Apportionment cases had often been brought under the Guaranty Clause of Article IV, Section: 4 of the United States Constitution (Constitution), in which the United States guarantees to the individual states a republican form of government. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) has long held that such challenges present a political question, not addressable by the courts. In the current case, Appellants challenged the state apportionment of legislatures under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over questions of legislative apportionment?


In an opinion which explored the nature of political questions” and the appropriateness of Court action in them, the Court held that there were no such questions to be answered in this case and that legislative apportionment was a justiciable issue. In his majority opinion, Justice Brennan provided past examples in which the Court had intervened to correct constitutional violations in matters pertaining to state administration and the officers through whom state affairs are conducted. Brennan concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues which Baker and others raised in this case merited judicial evaluation. Justices Douglas, Clark, and Stewart filed separate concurring opinions. Justice Frankfurter, joined by Justice Harlan, dissented.”


Baker v. Carr is the first of the cases developing the Supreme Court’s “one person, one vote” legislation. This line of cases helped equalize representation between country and city dwellers in an increasingly urbanized nation.

Charles S. Rhyne for the appellants at argument and reargument, Z. T. Osborn, Jr. reargued the cause for the appellants, Archibald Cox Solicitor General, Department of Justice, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court, James M. Glasgow for the appellees, Jack Wilson reargued for the appellees
Tennessee State Capitol
Joe C. Carr et al.
Charles W. Baker et al.
Warren Court
369 US 186 (1962)
Apr 19 – 20, 1961, ReArgued:
Oct 9, 1961
Mar 26, 1962