Gomillion Versus Lightfoot: The Right to Vote in Apartheid Alabama (Alabama Fire Ant)

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9780817350444: Gomillion Versus Lightfoot: The Right to Vote in Apartheid Alabama (Alabama Fire Ant)
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The account of the landmark constitutional law decision on racial redistricting.

"Bernard Taper's small but meaty book . . . is an example of how the human considerations that lie behind a Supreme Court decision can be brought to life. . . . By applying the microscope to a single case, Mr. Taper has said a great deal about how and why issues reach the Supreme Court, and how they are decided."
New York Times

This book was first published in 1962 to critical acclaim. It details the lawsuit that Charles C. Gomillion, chairman of Tuskegee Institute's Division of Social Sciences and president of the Tuskegee Civic Association, filed against that Alabama city's mayor, Philip M. Lightfoot, to protest the black community's loss of voting rights. Because Tuskegee’s black population in 1957 (5,300) far
outnumbered its white population (1,400) and because the highly educated black community had made persistent and successful efforts to register as voters, the Alabama Legislature redrew the city's boundaries to exclude most of the African-American districts, effectively converting Tuskegee to a white city. Gomillion's lawsuit, which was lost twice in lower courts, alleged that Tuskegee's black citizens had been illegally gerrymandered out of their constitutional right to vote. In 1960 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed, writing, "The inescapable human effect of this . . . is to despoil colored citizens, and only colored citizens, of their theretofore enjoyed voting rights."


As a result of Gomillion vs. Lightfoot, the Supreme Court unanimously questioned the constitutionality of redistricting voting precincts along racial lines, not only in Tuskegee but nationwide. Taper's well-written, thorough account will be welcomed by students and scholars of constitutional law, Alabama and southern history, and civil rights.

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About the Author:

Bernard Taper is Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Review:

"A superb piece of legal reportage, faithful to the issues, mindful of the human element. . . . A model of its kind."—Los Angeles Times

Bernard Taper's small but meaty book . . . is an example of how the human considerations that lie behind a Supreme Court decision can be brought to life. . . . By applying the microscope to a single case, Mr. Taper has said a great deal about how and why issues reach the Supreme Court, and how they are decided."
New York Times

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