Redistricting Population Deviation

1964 marked the first landmark decision by the Supreme Court ... 'one man, one vote'

The Supreme Court of the United States has set forth two separate standards for deviation from equality in population in redistricting Congress and state legislatures.  For Congress, district populations must be equal “as nearly as is practicable” under the “equal representation” standard set forth in Article I Section 2. Deviations in district populations for state legislatures must remain within 10% under the “one person one vote” standard set forth under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Beginning in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court made a series of landmark decisions concerning redistricting, most notably Reynolds v. Syms. 377 U.S. 533. These fundamentally distinguished the standard for state legislatures from that of the Congress because, the court said:

“... [T]he Founding Fathers clearly had no intention of establishing a pattern or model for the apportionment of seats in state legislatures when the system of representation in the Federal Congress was adopted.  … The system of representation in the two Houses of the Federal Congress is one ingrained in our Constitution, as part of the law of the land. It is one conceived out of compromise and concession indispensable to the establishment of our federal republic.”

The application of the Equal Protection Clause to the New York legislature in WMCA v. Lomenzo, 377 U.S. 633, required “that seats in both houses of a bicameral state legislature must be apportioned substantially on population basis.”  In examining the results of the state constitutional formulas that governed apportionment of the state legislature the court found drastic district deviations where "the most populous Assembly district had 11.9 times as many citizens as the least populous one, and a similar ratio in the Senate was about 2.4-to-1. The court said further that “the weight of the votes of those living in populous areas is of necessity substantially diluted in effect.” Id at 648.  It concluded that “however complicated of sophisticated an apportionment scheme might be, it cannot, consistent with that Equal Protection Clause, result in a significant undervaluation of the weight of the voters of certain of a State’s citizens merely because of where they happen to reside.”

Following Lomenzo, deviation in state legislative districts fell to 1.83% in the 1970 redistricting, only to increase to 5.3% in 1980, and the highs of 9.48% and 9.78% in the Assembly and Senate, respectively, in the last redistricting in 2002, which was upheld by the courts in Rodriguez v. Pataki.

1964 marked the first landmark decision by the Supreme Court ... 'one man, one vote'

The Supreme Court of the United States has set forth two separate standards for deviation from equality in population in redistricting Congress and state legislatures.  For Congress, district populations must be equal “as nearly as is practicable” under the “equal representation” standard set forth in Article I Section 2. Deviations in district populations for state legislatures must remain within 10% under the “one person one vote” standard set forth under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Beginning in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court made a series of landmark decisions concerning redistricting, most notably Reynolds v. Syms. 377 U.S. 533. These fundamentally distinguished the standard for state legislatures from that of the Congress because, the court said:

“... [T]he Founding Fathers clearly had no intention of establishing a pattern or model for the apportionment of seats in state legislatures when the system of representation in the Federal Congress was adopted.  … The system of representation in the two Houses of the Federal Congress is one ingrained in our Constitution, as part of the law of the land. It is one conceived out of compromise and concession indispensable to the establishment of our federal republic.”

The application of the Equal Protection Clause to the New York legislature in WMCA v. Lomenzo, 377 U.S. 633, required “that seats in both houses of a bicameral state legislature must be apportioned substantially on population basis.”  In examining the results of the state constitutional formulas that governed apportionment of the state legislature the court found drastic district deviations where "the most populous Assembly district had 11.9 times as many citizens as the least populous one, and a similar ratio in the Senate was about 2.4-to-1. The court said further that “the weight of the votes of those living in populous areas is of necessity substantially diluted in effect.” Id at 648.  It concluded that “however complicated of sophisticated an apportionment scheme might be, it cannot, consistent with that Equal Protection Clause, result in a significant undervaluation of the weight of the voters of certain of a State’s citizens merely because of where they happen to reside.”

Following Lomenzo, deviation in state legislative districts fell to 1.83% in the 1970 redistricting, only to increase to 5.3% in 1980, and the highs of 9.48% and 9.78% in the Assembly and Senate, respectively, in the last redistricting in 2002, which was upheld by the courts in Rodriguez v. Pataki.

 

 

 

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