Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Has the Supreme Court Overruled Baker v. Carr ?

Con law was my least favorite course in law school--lousy instructor didn't help--so I'm way out of my depth here.  But I found myself mulling over the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision--the one where the court seems to transfer voting power over to money-power.  I found myself wondering, first--do the proponents of Citizens United believe that it does not transfer voting power to money-power?  Or do they, by contrast, feel that it does and it should?

That latter is hardly beyond the realm of consideration.  The idea of one man, one vote, may (or may not) be in the Constitution but it certainly is not carved in stone. Plenty of societies make voting a function of wealth--either limiting the right to "property owners" or going all the way to one dollar, one vote.  And while we haven't been doing it lately in government, we certainly make voting a function of wealth in corporate voting, where the rule is one share, one vote.  I believe the same holds true for, e.g., New York City co-op apartments. And plenty of "government-like" special purpose districts that perform functions which might otherwise be performed by governments.  I'm too indolent to search it out right now but I remember a Supreme Court case--I believe it was Rehnquist at the very beginning of his tenure--expressly avowing that truly "special" special-purpose districts were not bound by one man, one vote.

Indeed, the premise of the voting revolution on the court in the 60s and 70s--capped by Baker v. Carr in 1962--was that there was a Constitutional dimension to one man, one vote, and that we'd insensibly slipped away from it, and that we needed the court to set it right. Which leads me to wonder--has the court now implicitly overruled Baker v. Carr?  Indeed, has it gone the whole way and held that money-voting is not only permitted, but required?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Alexander Hamilton believed the right to vote ought to be limited to "men of property."

Aaron Burr, a former vice-president of the United States. shot and killed him.

The matter hadn't come up since. At least not until this year.

Of course, I'm only remarking.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank