Resource: Of Squares and Uncouth Twenty-Eight-Sided Figures: Reflections on Gomilion and Lighfoot after Half a Century

By: Jonathan L. Entin

Washburn Law Journal

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.