Wesberry v. Sanders (1964)

In its 1964 ruling in Wesberry v. Sanders —a suit pursued by a group of Fulton County voters against Georgia officials, including Governor Carl Sanders —the U.S. Supreme Court built on its previous ruling in Gray v. Sanders (1963) to hold that all federal congressional districts within each state had to be made up of a roughly equal number of voters. In so ruling, the Court radically altered how state legislatures would thereafter draw congressional districts, which before Wesberry often reflected long-established groupings of counties that ignored intervening urbanization and other major shifts in population.
Within four months of Wesberry, the Court ruled in its most famous reapportionment case, Reynolds v. Sims (1964), out of Alabama, that the U.S. Constitution required the equal valuation of votes in virtually all elections for officials from legislatively drawn districts, including representatives who served in either chamber of any state legislature. As a result, the Court scuttled the legislative electoral systems of most states, including often-used "little federalism" systems that structured districts for one house of the state legislature according to geography, rather than population, in keeping with the model of the Constitution's treatment of the U.S. Senate.
The reapportionment decisions of Chief Justice Earl Warren's court, beginning with Gray and Wesberry, dramatically reshaped the nature of representative government in Georgia and in the nation. No less important, the principle of electoral equality that underlies these decisions has continued to generate important rulings in more recent times—most prominently the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Bush v. Gore, which brought an end to the high-profile legal challenges triggered by the presidential election of 2000.
close

Loading

Cite This Article
Coenen, Dan T. "Wesberry v. Sanders (1964)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 05 June 2014. Web. 21 August 2014.
From Our Home Page
Geographic Regions of Georgia: Overview

The diverse landscapes of Georgia result from geological and climatic forces working throughout time, with some recent direct influence from human activities.

Read more...
James Brown (ca. 1933-2006)

James Brown, who grew up in Augusta, was one of the most influential musicians of the last half of the twentieth century.

Read more...
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with headquarters in Atlanta, has been a key factor in combating many of the hea

Read more...
Atlanta Campaign

The "Atlanta campaign" is the name given by historians to the military operations that took place in north Georgia during the Civ

Read more...
Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries