79 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 751 (2004)
Partisan Fairness and Redistricting Politics

handle is hein.journals/nylr79 and id is 765 raw text is: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
LAW REVIEW

VOLUME 79                        JUNE 2004                        NUMBER 3
COMMENTARY
PARTISAN FAIRNESS AND
REDISTRICTING POLITICS
ADAM Cox*
Courts and scholars have operated on the implicit assumption that the Supreme
Court's one person, one vote jurisprudence put redistricting politics on a fixed,
ten-year cycle. Recent redistricting controversies in Colorado, Texas, and else-
where, however, have undermined this assumption, highlighting the fact that most
states are currently free to redraw election districts as often as they like. This essay
explores whether partisan fairness-a normative commitment that both scholars
and the Supreme Court have identified as a central concern of districting arrange-
ments-would be promoted by a procedural rule limiting the frequency of redis-
tricting. While the literature has not considered this question, scholars generally are
pessimistic about the capacity of procedural redistricting regulations to curb par-
tisan gerrymandering. In contrast, this essay argues that a procedural rule limiting
the frequency of redistricting will promote partisan fairness by introducing benefi-
cial uncertainty in the redistricting process and by regularizing the redistricting
agenda.
Last spring brought a sudden shock to the ritual of redistricting
politics. Breaking the routine of decennial redistricting, Colorado
decided to redraw its congressional districts less than fifteen months
* Copyright © 2004 by Adam Cox. Assistant Professor of Law, The University of
Chicago Law School. B.S.E., 1996, Princeton University; J.D., 1999, University of
Michigan Law School. I would like to thank Ahilan Arulanantham, Gary Cox, Elizabeth
Garrett, Sam Hirsch, Jenia lontcheva, Michelle Kim, Christopher Meade, Elizabeth
Milnikel, Jide Nzelibe, Nathanial Persily, Frederick Vars, and the participants in the faculty
workshop at the University of Chicago Law School for extremely helpful comments and
suggestions. The paper also benefited greatly from comments made during presentations
at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, the University of Iowa College of Law, Loyola
University of Chicago School of Law, the University of Michigan Law School, the
University of Minnesota Law School, Vanderbilt University Law School, Wake Forest
University School of Law, and William & Mary School of Law.
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