Friday, November 15, 2013

Vieth v. Jubelirer case brief

Vieth v. Jubelirer case brief summary
541 U.S. 267 (2004)

Appellants, registered Democratic voters, sued appellees, state executive and legislative Republican officers, alleging that the officers enacted legislation creating voting districts favoring Republicans in violation of the constitutional one-person, one-vote requirement. The voters appealed the judgment of a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania which dismissed the action.

The voters contended that the districts created by the officers' legislation were meandering and irregular, and ignored all traditional redistricting criteria, including the preservation of local government boundaries, solely for the sake of partisan political advantage.

  • A plurality of the United States Supreme Court held, however, that the existence of the alleged political gerrymandering was a political question which precluded judicial intervention. 
  • While prior Supreme Court precedent indicated that the constitutional provision for equal protection of the law granted judicial authority to control political gerrymandering, such precedent was erroneous in view of the lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the propriety of voting districts. 
  • The judicial power to rectify gerrymandering based on race did not provide a basis for considering the political advantages or disadvantages of voting districts, since political affiliation was clearly not permanently discernible and the effects of political gerrymandering could never be adequately assessed. 
  • The U.S. Constitution provided equal protection to persons, not equal representation to political parties.


The judgment dismissing the voters' action was affirmed.

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