After the 2000 census reduced
the size of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation by two members, the
Republican-controlled State legislature passed a redistricting plan that
clearly benefited Republican candidates.
Several members of the
Democratic Party sued in Federal Court, claiming that the plan was
unconstitutional because it violated the one-person, one-vote principle of
Article I, Section 2 of
Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause, the Privileges
and Immunities Clause, and freedom
The Trial Court dismissed all
but the Article I, Section 2
The Trial Court found that
the voters bringing the suit had not proved that they would be denied
representation, only that they would be represented by Republican
Because they were not denied
the right to vote, to be placed on the ballot box, to associate as a
party, or to express their political opinions, their political
discrimination claims failed.
However, the Trial Court found
the plan was unconstitutional because it created districts with different
numbers of voters, thereby violating the one-person, one-vote principle
established in Baker v. Carr (369
U.S. 186 (1962)).
Because the plaintiffs had
shown that it was possible to create districts with smaller differences,
and because the defendants had failed to justify the disparities
resulting under their plan, it was therefore unconstitutional.
In a split decision that had
no majority opinion, the US Supreme Court decided not to intervene in this
case because no appropriate judicial solution could be found.
The US Supreme Court found
that they should declare all claims related to political (but not racial)
meaning that courts could not hear them.
The Court found that because
no court had been able to find an appropriate remedy to political
gerrymandering claims in the 18 years since they decided Davis v.
Bandemer (478 U.S. 109 (1986)),
which had held that such a remedy had not been found yet but might exist,
it was time to recognize that the solution simply did not exist.
In a concurring opinion (which
provided the deciding fifth vote for the judgment) it was argued that that
the Court should rule narrowly in this case that no appropriate judicial solution
could be found, but not give up on finding one eventually.
The concurrence admits that
the State legislature is doing a bad thing, but felt that there was no
way to come up with a remedy.
The Political Question
Doctrine would say that the real
remedy should be that if people didn't like it, they should vote the
Republicans out of the State legislature and replace them with people
who won't gerrymander.