Baker v. Carr

Facts of the case

Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state's General Assembly was virtually ignored. Baker's suit detailed how Tennessee's reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.

Question

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

6–2 DECISION FOR BAKER 
MAJORITY OPINION BY WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, JR
.

State reapportionment claims are justiciable in federal court

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.