TRADITIONAL DISTRICT PRINCIPLES - What are Traditional...

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What are Traditional Districting Principles? 1 Micah Altman 2 1 An earlier version of this paper was delivered at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, in Chicago, Nov. 1995. 2 Division of Humanities and Social Sciences 228-77, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA 91125. The author would like to thank Morgan Kousser for his guidance during the development of this paper and Daniel Lowenstein for his many helpful comments.
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What are traditional districting principles? Abstract The courts have become increasingly willing to examine the shape and composition of districts. In the most recent decision of the Supreme Court, Miller v. Johnson , the court emphasized that along with population equality, other “traditional” districting principles such as compactness, contiguity and respect for political subdivisions may serve as evidence of “narrow tailoring” sufficient to defend against a claim of race-based redistricting. Are compactness, contiguity, and population equality traditional qualities of U.S. Congressional districts? In the first part of this paper, I answer this question by analyzing data across decadal redistrictings starting in 1789 and ending in 1993. In the second part of this paper, I argue that unlike population-equality measures, compactness standards are not easily manageable by the judiciary. I use a variety of compactness measures and population-equality measures to evaluate. I find that different population-equality measures, even those with poor theoretical properties, produce very similar evaluations of plans. On the other hand, different compactness measures fail to agree about the compactness of most districts and plans. In effect, the courts can use any convenient measure of population equality and obtain similar results, while the courts’ choice of compactness measures will significantly change the evaluations in each case. Since there is no generally accepted single measure of compactness, this disagreement among measures raises concerns whether compactness is a readily operationalizable notion, to use a social scientific formulation, or a judicially manegable one, to employ terms from law. The courts have assumed that compactness, contiguity and population equality are traditional qualities of Congressional districts. In the light of historical evidence from 349 district plans, comprising the 3390 districts created between 1789 and 1913, I show this assumption to be doubtful.
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What are traditional districting principles? Page 1 1. Redistricting Principles in the Courts One person, one vote. With this principle, the Court permanently changed representation in the United States. Equal popultion requirements changed the face of legislative redistricting in the 1960’s when the Supreme Court applied it to congressional districts in Wesberry v . Sanders (1964) and to state legislatures in Reynolds v . Sims (1964). Equality in district population was valued not only as instrumental to other goals but for itself, as Justice Black in
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TRADITIONAL DISTRICT PRINCIPLES - What are Traditional...

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