This essay, part of a symposium on political powerlessness and constitutional interpretation, focuses on Gomillion v. Lightfoot, which rejected an attempt to remove virtually every African American registered voter from the city limits of Tuskegee, Alabama. The paper examines why and how the case arose in a community with an unusually large and independent black middle class that had long placed high priority on voting rights as well as the impact of the ruling not only on political life in Tuskegee but also on the ruling in Baker v. Carr that launched the reapportionment of legislative bodies around the nation. The discussion also considers the legacy of Gomillion in the continuing debate about the meaning of voting rights in cases involving majority-minority districts.


Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339 (196), Act. No. 14, 1957, Ala. Acts 185, Civil rights. Due process, Equal Protection Clause, Gerrymandering (Alabama), 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, U.S. v. Alabama, Voting rights

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Washburn Law Journal

Publication Information

50 Washburn Law Journal 133 (2010)


COinS Jonathan L. Entin Faculty Bio