In a 6-2 opinion delivered by Justice William J. Brennan, the majority ruled that the Supreme Court has authority to review and alter state legislatures’ attempts to reapportion voting districts. The Court dismissed the argument that the reapportionment of legislative districts is a “political question” (and thus left to the accountable political branches, and not to judicial process).
The Baker Court engages in judicial imperialism, establishing the reasoning that would lead to the judicial usurpation and management of virtually all features of the political questions arising in redistricting. From the time of Marbury v. Madison, the Court has recognized that “Questions, in their nature political . . . can never be made in this court.” Despite the fact that the function of redistricting was clearly delegated to the political branches and had historically been recognized as beyond the province of the judiciary, the Court found that it was within its authority to decide the matter for the other branches. In so doing, Baker enumerated six factors it would consider in weighing the justiciability of political questions—a test which in application has been criticized as greatly weakening the political question doctrine.