Karcher v. Daggett

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Karcher v. Daggett
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 2, 1983
Decided June 22, 1983
Full case name Karcher, Speaker, New Jersey Assembly, et al. v. Daggett, et al.
Citations 462 U.S. 725 (more)
103 S. Ct. 2653; 77 L. Ed. 2d 133; 1983 U.S. LEXIS 75; 51 U.S.L.W. 4853
Prior history Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined by Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor
Concurrence Stevens
Dissent White, joined by Burger, Powell, Rehnquist
Dissent Powell

Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U.S. 725 (1983), was a United States Supreme Court case involving the legality of redistricting, and possibly gerrymandering, in the state of New Jersey.[1][2][3]


The New Jersey Legislature adopted a redistricting plan which resulted in a one percent population difference between the largest and smallest districts. Several citizens came forward and challenged the legislation, claiming it violated Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and determined the law to be unconstitutional. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court.[1][2][3]

The "equal representation" standard of Article I, Section 2 requires districts to be apportioned to population equality to the closest possible degree. The population differences here could have been avoided with a good faith effort to achieve population equality. The Court found that the defendants did not meet their burden of proving that the deviations in their plan were necessary to achieve a consistent, nondiscriminatory redistricting. The State had to prove specifically how and why the specific deviations of its plan were for an objective to benefit the system. The defendant tried to prove that the justification for the high deviations was to preserve voting strength of minority groups. However, the court believed that the state could not prove that the population disparities preserved the voting strength of these minority groups.[1][2][3]

Opinion of the Court

The Supreme Court upheld the district courts decision based on the evidence and findings and found the redistricting to be unconstitutional in regards to Article I, section 2. The State was compelled to enact a new redistricting plan that followed smaller population deviations of district size.[1][2][3]

Subsequent developments

This case outlines the importance of redistricting fairly in regards to population size. Or that if there is a goal to preserve a minority area, there must be compelling evidence to indicate that the redistricting plan that does not follow low deviations will successfully preserve the minority vote.[1][2][3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Karcher v. Daggett - 462 U.S. 725 (1983)". Justia: US Supreme Court Center. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Karcher v. Daggett". LIT Chicago Kent College of Law. Oyez. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Karcher v. Daggett". Case Briefs. Bloomberg Law.