The Political Thicket Reprise

The Political Thicket Reprise (WNYC Studios)

About this episode

This week, we revisit one of the most important Supreme Court cases you’ve probably never heard of: Baker v. Carr, a redistricting case from the 1960s, which challenged the justices to consider what might happen if they stepped into the world of electoral politics. It’s a case so stressful that it pushed one justice to a nervous breakdown, put another justice in the hospital, brought a boiling feud to a head, and changed the course of the Supreme Court — and the nation — forever.

Voices in the episode include:

• Tara Grove — More Perfect legal advisor, University of Texas at Austin law professor

• Guy-Uriel Charles — Harvard Law School professor

• Louis Michael Seidman — Georgetown Law School professor

• Sam Issacharoff — NYU law school professor

• Craig A. Smith — PennWest California humanities professor and Charles Whittaker's biographer

• J. Douglas Smith — author of "On Democracy's Doorstep"

• Alan Kohn — former Supreme Court clerk for Charles Whittaker (1957 term)

• Kent Whittaker — Charles Whittaker's son

• Kate Whittaker — Charles Whittaker's granddaughter

Learn more:

• 1962: Baker v. Carr

• 2000: Bush v. Gore

• 2016: Evenwel v. Abbott

Music in this episode by Gyan Riley, Alex Overington, David Herman, Tobin Low and Jad Abumrad.


Archival interviews with Justice William O. Douglas come from the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library.

Special thanks to Jerry Goldman and to Whittaker's clerks: Heywood Davis, Jerry Libin and James Adler.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project by Justia and the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Support for More Perfect is provided in part by The Smart Family Fund.

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