Gray v. Sanders (1963)

Chief Justice Earl Warren once said that the most important judicial rulings of his tenure were not the momentous school-desegregation decisions, but the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that compelled states to reconfigure their electoral processes according to the principle of "one person, one vote." In Baker v. Carr (1962), a major case from Tennessee, the Supreme Court held that challenges to the formation of voting districts could be brought to federal court under the Equal Protection Clause, despite earlier suggestions that the judiciary should not have a say in their formation.
The next Supreme Court decision on the merit of reapportionment suits came when James Sanders, a voter in Fulton County, challenged the application of Georgia's county unit voting system in elections for governor, U.S. senator, and other officeholders chosen on a statewide basis. The problem with the county unit system, according to Sanders, was that it gave residents of small counties far more voting power than residents of more populous counties. Indeed, the imbalance was so great that rural counties that were home to only one-third of Georgia's population held a majority of county unit votes in statewide elections. James H. Gray, the chair of the State Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, was among the named defendants because the suit focused on party-run primary elections, which at that time determined the selection of the state's officeholders.
In the words of Justice William Douglas, by striking down the unfair voting scheme through the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court insisted that the American "conception of political equality . . . can mean only one thing—one person, one vote."
close

Loading

Cite This Article
Coenen, Dan T. "Gray v. Sanders (1963)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 06 June 2017. Web. 17 August 2018.
From Our Home Page
Charlayne Hunter-Gault (b. 1942)

Charlayne Hunter-Gault holds a place in Georgia civil rights history as one of the first two African American students admitted to

Read more...
Early Victorian Architecture: Overview

In the forty-five years from 1850 to 1895, architecture in Georgia advanced from simple Greek revival forms to the massive steel-frame skyscraper.

Read more...
Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha)

The 

Read more...
Radio Broadcasting

Commercial radio broadcasting in Georgia began on March 15, 1922, when a hastily assembled transmission system began scheduled broadcasting under the call letters

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