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Saturday, October 6, 2012

JMI: Reviving Our “Laboratories of Democracy”

By Robert F. Sanchez 
June 2010 
 
Let’s face it: There was a time in our nation’s history – and it wasn’t so long ago – when the phrase “states’ rights” was unfortunately synonymous with resistance to ending historic patterns of racial apartheid in the South.  
 
Moreover, even before the civil rights movement gained traction, there was a long period in which many state governments were increasingly dysfunctional, with their legislatures dominated by blocs of rural lawmakers who clung to power and blocked fair redistricting. 
 
So today’s advocates of returning power to its rightful place in the nation’s state capitals owe a debt of gratitude to an obscure Tennessean named Charles Baker. His persistence led to a landmark court decision that relatively few Americans know about.
 
It’s certainly not among those U.S. Supreme Court rulings so famous that no introduction is needed. Mention Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education, for instance, and most people immediately know the issues that were involved. 
 
Mention  Baker v. Carr, however, and you’re apt to get a blank stare until you add that “it’s the one-man, one-vote decision” -- a term that in these more politically correct times has morphed into the politically correct “one-person, one-vote.”
 

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