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Supreme Court Case Term Paper


The case Reynolds v. Sims (1964) appealed from the U.S. District Court. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Alabama District Court due to the inadequate apportionment of the population voters. In the majority of cases, district voters should be equally allocated to permit everyone to quote equally.

According to the Alabama constitution, each country can introduce only one representative to vote, as well as the one representative from the senatorial district. The problem arises when one country has more than one district which does not contribute to equal involvement of voters into the elections.


The inadequate apportionment presented in the Alabama legislature deprived voters of rights stipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment and in the Alabama Constitution. According to the Equal Protection Clause, “No state shall make ore enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” (US Const. n. d.). Therefore, the voters all over the counties suit against the official restricting their civil rights.

The complainants declared that the Alabama legislative elections could not be regarded as constitutional. Therefore, the accusations were predetermined by serious discrimination against representatives from counties in which the population increased, which led to unequal apportionment, as compared to other countries in which the population growth rates were much lower.

In addition, the Alabama constitution does not allow the divide country between several senatorial districts. In addition, the issue was strongly associated with related case Baker v. Carr, 369, U. S. 186 (1962) and, therefore, the Court should go further to continue correcting serious violations of equal voting. The actual law infringement lied in unequal apportionment that was sufficient to bias the foundations of republican government.

In addition, before the case, urban counties had experience in underrepresentation. The officials claimed that the District Court was mistaken in supporting unconstitutional plans because a federal court was unauthorized to reapportion the legislature. In addition, the complaints appealed because the Court did not reapportion the senatorial district in accordance with the population distribution.


The decision was upheld by eight justices who relied on the principle “one person, one vote”. Hence, Chief Justice Earl Warrant introduced the majority decision by stating that legislature should represent individuals, but not objects and, therefore, the election process should be premised on human interests and preferences.

Justice Tom Clark reported a concurring opinion, along with justice Power Steward who stated that the Court is not entitled to provide any resolutions because the case is strongly connected with the egregious examples of violation of equal protection.

Finally, in his dissenting decision, Justice John Marshall Harlan II introduced the arguments against the Court for neglecting the original grounds of the Equal Protection Clause that failed to cover the voting rights. Harlan criticized the District Court was introducing their subjective view on the “good government”, which violated the principles of federalism. Finally, Justice claimed that provided the case was correct, the U.S. Constitution fails to ensure equal voting for the population.

The case under analysis discusses the urgent issues in the election process, particularly unequal distribution of the votes among the counties. In this respect, Riker (1982) focuses on other related cases to underline the constitutional limitations with regard to the right of the citizens to vote. The scholar also supports the evidence that underlines the violation of the equal protection clause. In addition, the case under analysis highlights such issues as equal representation and democratization processes (Riker, 1982).

In particular, the doctrine accepted during resolution of the case was frequently applied to other case to define the level of apportionment (Riker, 1982). While considering the outcomes of the court decision, Riker suggests that Reynolds v. Sims did not have any tangible impact on the U.S. legislature, neither had it serious economic consequences for the state (Riker, 1982).

In particular, the researcher insists that the case is connected with the governmental regulations rather than with the protection of the civil rights. As per economic aspect, the focus is made on the appointment of several seats for the democratic parties (Riker, 1982). Therefore, the actual influence of the case on the legislature was minimal.

Unlike Riker who pays closer attention to governmental issues, Pritchett (1964) is more concerned with criticizing the Court decisions that violated the equal protection, as well as moral leadership that should propagate the equality issues. However, the actual idea of equal treatment emerged only four years later, in 1968.

According to the Fourteenth Amendment, the states were forbidden to deny to any individual within the court jurisdiction. In this respect, the case relies on the idea of representative government, as well as the majority principle to favor the Court’s decision that “the Equal Protection Clause guarantees the opportunity for equal participation by all voters in the election of state legislators” (Pritchett, 1964, p. 871).

Implications of the Case

The case under consideration has created a number of legal contradictions. In particular, the Senator of Illinois struggled for the adoption of a Constitutional amendment that could allow the possibility of unequal districts. However, the Senator’s attempts failed because it contradicted the Fourteenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

In general, Reynolds v. Sims served as a precedent for future cases that made courts reconsider their decisions. The case was closely connected with Baker v. Carr (1962) because it also relied on the apportionment principles. In other words, the voting process should be distributed with reliance on the population, but not on geographical principles.

Apart from constitutional grounds, the case has specific political philosophy. In particular, the fact that justices rejected the idea one-man-one-vote derived from the equal protection clause. In particular, they argued that the principle was too rigid with regard to the representation system.

In particular, holding the above-presented principle did not provide any opportunity for progressive innovation of democratic institutions. Therefore, the main goal of equal protection lied in accommodating the representing government to the interests and objective of diverse groups.


In conclusion, the case under analysis refers to several legislative issues. To begin with, the case introduced tangible violation of civil rights of voters who should have equal opportunities during the elections. Second, Reynolds v. Sims explains controversial issues related to the U.S. Constitution.

In particular, the Court failed to consider the case in accordance for the Fourteenth Amendment, particularly the Equal Protection Clause. The Court reconsidered the case aspects and decided to correct the voting system by introducing the principle “one man, on vote”. On the one hand, the case relates to representational government. On the other hand, the case analyzes democratic issues and civil rights, although it bears a political character.

Works Cited

Pritchett, H. (1964). Equal Protection and the Urban Majority. The American Political Science Review. 58(4), 869-875. Reynolds v. Sims. 377 U.S. (1964).

Riker, W. (1982). Democracy and Representation: A Reconciliation of Ball v. James and Reynolds v. Sims. Supreme Court Economy Review ,1, 39-58.

Baker v. Carr 369. U. S. 186 (1962). U.S. Const. (n. d.) Amendment XIV, sec. 1.

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