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14 Cardozo L. Rev. 1135 (1992 - 1993)
The Representation of Minority Interests: The Question of Single-Member Districts

handle is hein.journals/cdozo14 and id is 1153 raw text is: THE REPRESENTATION OF MINORITY
Lani Guinier*
Majority black electoral districts are the remedy of choice in
most voting rights cases brought by black plaintiffs. This preference
is consistent with the particular bias toward winner-take-all single
member electoral districts common in the United States. This Article
focuses on the limits of districting as a method for representing mi-
nority interests.
Elections based on multimember districts and proportional or
semiproportional representation may work better than districting as a
remedy for vote dilution.I These alternatives would assure fair minor-
ity representation and would better reflect all voters' true preferences.
Semiproportional, multimember electoral systems do not rely on terri-
torial or residential location as a fixed proxy for interests. Instead,
these alternative electoral systems allow voters to establish their own
communities of interest at each election. Unlike race conscious dis-
tricting,2 which predetermines voting options based on a concept of
group representation, these alternative electoral systems allow con-
* © 1993 Lani Guinier. Professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School. This Article
attempts to sketch a framework for more detailed consideration of a variety of questions about
political fairness and minority representation. I developed this framework as part of a presen-
tation to the Cardozo Law Review Symposium on Districting. Since the Article sets out a
framework for thinking about political fairness rather than a theory or even a fully developed
hypothesis, the work is necessarily tentative both in its discussion and its conclusions. Many
of the claims made herein are inchoate; others are developed more cogently elsewhere.
I have consented to publication at this preliminary stage to give integrity to the Sympo-
sium Issue. A version of this Article was also presented at the Harvard Government Depart-
ment Conference in June 1992 on Race, Ethnicity and Representation. I thank the
participants in the Cardozo Symposium and at the Harvard Conference for their helpful com-
ments, many of which I intend to incorporate elsewhere in a more comprehensive treatment of
this subject matter. I also thank James Blacksher, Dayna Cunningham, Pamela Karlan, and
Bernard Grofman for their many constructive criticisms of my ideas on districting.
I Vote dilution refers to the practice of limiting the ability of blacks to convert their
voting strength into the control of, or at least influence with, elected public officials. Richard
L. Engstrom, Racial Vote Dilution: The Concept and the Court, in THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT:
CONSEQUENCES AND IMPLICATIONS 13, 14 (Lorn S. Foster ed., 1985).
2 1 use the term race-conscious districting with some trepidation. I use the term to
describe the practice of maximizing or consolidating the number of minority group members in
a single, or a few winner-take-all subdistricts. In this sense, race-conscious districting takes
advantage of the practice of districting to avoid majority monopoly over all seats elected in the
jurisdiction. By creating some subdistricts in which the minority group predominates, the


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