Gerrymandering Resources at Brooklyn Law School Library

On May 22nd, the United States Supreme Court, in Cooper v. Harris, No. 15-1262, struck down two North Carolina congressional districts holding that race played too large a factor in drawing the districts’ borders.  Writing for the 5-3 majority, Justice Kagan said that a plaintiff challenging a voting district must prove that “race (not politics) was the ‘predominant consideration in deciding to place a significant number of voters within or without a particular district.’”  If you are interested in learning more about the constitutionality and history of gerrymandering, the library has several resources that can help. Listed below are a few of the more current sources on the topic.

Nicholas R. Seabrook, Drawing the Lines: Constraints on Partisan Gerrymandering in U.S. Politics (2017)

Radical redistricting plans, such as that pushed through by Texas governor Rick Perry in 2003, are frequently used for partisan purposes. Perry’s plan sent twenty-one Republicans (and only eleven Democrats) to Congress in the 2004 elections. Such heavy-handed tactics strike many as contrary to basic democratic principles. In Drawing the Lines, Nicholas R. Seabrook uses a combination of political science methods and legal studies insights to investigate the effects of redistricting on U.S. House elections. He concludes that partisan gerrymandering poses far less of a threat to democratic accountability than conventional wisdom would suggest.—From the publisher

Anthony McGann, ed., Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty (2016)

This book considers the causes and consequences of partisan gerrymandering in the U.S. House. The Supreme Court’s decision in Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004) made challenging a district plan on ground of partisan gerrymandering practically impossible. Through a rigorous scientific analysis of US House district maps, the authors argue that partisan bias increased dramatically in the 2010 redistricting round after the Vieth decision, both at the national and state level. From a constitutional perspective, unrestrained partisan gerrymandering poses a critical threat to a central pillar of American democracy — popular sovereignty. State legislatures now effectively determine the political composition of the US House. The book answers the Court’s challenge to find a new standard for gerrymandering that is both constitutionally grounded and legally manageable. It argues that the scientifically rigorous partisan symmetry measure is an appropriate legal standard for partisan gerrymandering, as it is a necessary condition of individual equality and can be practically applied.—From the publisher

Tinsley E. Yarbrough, Race and Redistricting: the Shaw-Cromartie Cases (2002)

Race and Redistricting spotlights efforts to “racially engineer” voting districts in an effort to achieve fair representation. By examining one state’s efforts to confront such dilemmas, it helps readers better understand future disputes over race and politics, as well as the ongoing debates over our “color-blind” constitution.—From the publisher

Marsha Jean Tyson Darling, ed., Race, Voting, and Redistricting and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Fifteenth Amendment (2001)

This three-volume work includes chapters containing the text of primary sources, such as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and legislative documents pertaining to the passage of those laws.  Chapters also include scholarly commentary on Gerrymandering Hypocrisy: Supreme Court’s Double Standard, Making Sense Out of the Way We Should Vote, and the Case for Proportional Representation.