Baker v. Carr

369 U.S. 186 (1962)


The apportionment of voting districts in Tennessee was based on the 1901 census. By 1961, the population had grown, rendering these districts inappropriate, because some districts grew at a higher rate than others. Baker (P) filed an action challenging the apportionment system. He claimed that it was arbitrary and unconstitutional and that votes were diluted due to the old system. This civil action was brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 to redress the alleged deprivation of federal constitutional rights. The complaint, alleging that, by means of a 1901 statute of Tennessee apportioning the members of the General Assembly among the State's 95 counties,{1} 'these plaintiffs and others similarly situated, are denied the equal protection of the laws accorded them by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by virtue of the debasement of their votes,' was dismissed by a three-judge court convened under 28 U.S.C. § 2281 in the Middle District of Tennessee.{2} P sought to enjoin any further elections under the 1901 apportionment and asked the court to direct elections based on the most recent census figures. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter and also that no claim was stated upon which relief could be granted because it was a political question.