Baker v. Carr (1962)

Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
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In 1962, the US Supreme Court had decided over the Baker v. Carr case. The Baker v. Carr case was a landmark US Supreme Court case which at last withdrawn from its political question doctrine to come to a decision about the reapportionment concerns. The said case was brought up by the urban voters in opposition to the Tennessee Secretary of State and Attorney Gen. in the United States District Court of Middle Tennessee. Tennessee was unsuccessful to reallocate the state legislature for about 60 years in spite of the growth of the population and redeployment.

Charles Baker was a voter who filed a case against the state-and Joe Carr was a state officer who was in command of elections- in federal district court. Moreover, before the US Supreme Court gives their decision about the case, majority of the legislative districts throughout Ohio and in several states didn’t have the same numbers in terms of their population rates (see “Baker v. Carr”. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Ed. P. 3865, 2004). This would definitely signify that a representative may possibly represent about 100,000 populations in each district whereas the others may possibly represent 500,000.

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In Ohio, every country had its own right to have a legislator in the Ohio government prior to Baker v. Carr. During 1960, Franklin County had more than 300,000 inhabitants whereas Vinton County had merely 11,000 populaces. In the previous system, every country has a legislator but in Baker v. Carr case, each county did not longer have the right to receive a legislator (see “Baker v. Carr”. OhioHistoryCentral. org, 2006). The focal points of this study are to:

(1) know the historical background on Baker v.Carr case;

(2) discuss the facts of the case and its court’s ruling and;

(3) be aware of the impact of Baker and Carr case on American government and society.

Discussion A. Historical Background

The complainant Charles Baker resided in Shelby County, Tennessee- the county where Memphis is situated- and was a Republican. Baker’s protest was that even though the Tennessee State Constitution necessitated that legislative districts be redrawn after 10 years as stated by the federal survey to give districts of substantively even inhabitants, , Tennessee was unable to redistrict since from the population count during 1900.

During the court case of Baker, the district of Shelby County-where Baker resides- had more populations just like other rural districts have. Baker’s argument pointed out that this inconsistency caused him unable to have the “equal protection under the laws” as stated by the Fourteenth Amendment. On the other hand, Joe Carr was litigated in his status as the Secretary of States for Tennessee. Joe Carr did not set the district lines because it was done by the state parliament but then, a case was filed against him as the person who was the most liable and accountable for the district maps’ publication and for conducting elections in the state.

The State of Tennessee claimed and disputed that legislative districts were fundamentally political and not judicial as had been engrossed by a number of Court’s opinion in Colegrove v. Green in 1946 which Justice Felix Frankfurter announced that: “Courts ought not to enter this political market” (see “U. S. Supreme Court: baker v. Carr, 369 U. U. 186 (1962). ” Findlaw. com, 2006). B. The Facts of the Case Charles W. Baker and several Tennessee inhabitants suspected that a 1901 decree designed to allocate the seats for the General Assembly of the state was practically disregarded.

The lawsuit of Baker comprehensively discussed on how the reapportionment efforts of Tennessee disregard substantial and important economic development and population modification within the state (see “Baker v. Carr 369 U. S. 186 (1962)”. Oyez. org). C. Court’s Ruling C. 1 The Laws Applied: *U. S. Const. amend. XIV; U. S. Const. art. III *42 U. S. C. 1983; Tenn. Const. art.

The most awaited result was finally given in March 1962, almost a year after it was originally disputed. The ruling of Baker v. Carr was considered as one of the major wrenching in the history of the Court.

The Supreme Court stated that the federal courts have the authority to regulate and decide the constitutionality of the voting of a state’s districts as stated in a 6-2 ruling. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. put in writing the common opinion, declaring that the constitutional right of the complainant or plaintiff to receive their votes count impartially provided them the essential and required lawful interest to carry out the court case. He disputed that the case did not include a “political question” which stopped and prohibited judicial review.

A court may possibly regulate the constitutionality of the apportionment decisions’ of the State without intervening with the political judgments of the legislature. Moreover, Baker v. Carr case was sent back to the federal court (see “Baker v. Carr (1962). Infoplease, Pearson Education 2005). Justice William O. Douglas wrote down conforming judgment. He announced that: “If a voter does not anymore have the full constitutional value of his franchise (right to vote), and the legislative branch fails to take appropriate restorative action, the doors of the courts must be open” (see “Baker v. Carr (1962). Infoplease, Pearson Education 2005).

However, in a conflicting view, Justice John Harlan II disputed and wrote that: “The federal equal protection clause does not prevent a State from choosing any electoral legislative structure it thinks best suited to the interests, temper, and customs of its people. If a state chose to distribute electoral strength among geographical units, rather than according to a census of population is… a rational decision policy… entitled to equal respect from this Court” (see “Baker v. Carr (1962). Infoplease, Pearson Education 2005).


The court declared that there were no questions that need to be answered in Baker v. Carr case and the parliamentary apportionment was a justified concern. Justice William Brennan had cited previous cases in which the Court interfered to amend constitutional infringements in issues which pertain to state government and the officials by whom state affairs are organized (see “Baker v. Carr 369 U. S. 186 (1962)”. Oyez. org). D. The impact of Baker and Carr case on American Government and Society

The impact of Baker and Carr case on American government and society was that the said landmark decision had made a way for many lawsuits on legislative apportionment. Because of the Baker v. Carr case, by the year of 1967, voters from Ohio altered and revised the state constitution. The revision made a ninety-nine seat state House and a thirty-three seat state Senate. The said revision set up and created too that every representative and senator should receive about the similar number of populations as required by the US Supreme Court. The Baler and Carr case and the modified constitution of Ohio was an uninterrupted outcome of urbanization.

In the middle of the 20th century, several individuals departed from rural areas and transferred to cities. The major cause for the said relocation was the deteriorating chances in the countryside. While in the cities, they ever more provided good high paying jobs and various employment opportunities. In Baker v. Carr case, the U. S. Supreme Court tried to make an effort to amend the subsequent dilemmas in political representation (see “Baker v. Carr”. OhioHistoryCentral. org, 2006).


1. “Baker v. Carr”. OhioHistoryCentral. org, 2006. http://www. ohiohistorycentral. org/entry. php? rec=1399.

2. “U. S. Supreme Court: baker v. Carr, 369 U. U. 186 (1962). ” Findlaw. com, 2006. http://caselaw. lp. findlaw. com/scripts/getcase. pl? court=US&vol=369&invol=186.

3. “Baker v. Carr 369 U. S. 186 (1962)”. Oyez. org. http://www. oyez. org/oyez/resource/case/25/.

4. “Baker v. Carr (1962). Infoplease, Pearson Education 2005. http://www. infoplease. com/us/supreme-court/cases/ar02. html.

5. “Baker v. Carr”. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Ed. P. 3865. Columbia University Press, New York, 2004).

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Baker v. Carr (1962). (2016, Jul 19). Retrieved from

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