A Caltech Library Service

What Are Judicially Manageable Standards For Redistricting? Evidence From History

Altman, Micah (1996) What Are Judicially Manageable Standards For Redistricting? Evidence From History. Social Science Working Paper, 976. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF (sswp 976 - Aug. 1996) - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In the 1960s the courts adopted population-equality measures as a means to limit gerrymandering. In recent cases, the courts have begun to use geographical compactness standards for this same purpose. In this research note, 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 349 district plans, comprising the 3390 U.S. Congressional districts created between 1789 and 1913. 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 manageable one, to employ terms from law.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information: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.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:976
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170815-165147079
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80453
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:16 Aug 2017 16:36
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:31

Repository Staff Only: item control page