William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal

Article Title

Enclave Districting


Congressional districting has historically fostered single-member, geographically compact districts consisting of contiguous territory and has resulted in common representation for those who live near each other. Underlying compact districting is the assumption that people living relatively close together share political interests that can be adequately served by common representation. When the United States was a sparsely populated agrarian nation and only the propertied were the enfranchised, providing common representation based on residential proximity was sensible. Over time, however, the connection between residence and political interests has diminished.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's suggestion that representation should focus on people rather than land, some have suggested that states should attempt interest based districting in which citizens with common political interests are provided common representation. Professor Chambers follows in that tradition by positing enclave districting. Enclave districting is an interest-based system that divides land into demographically similar enclaves that can be aggregated to create congressional districts with internally consistent demographic profiles. The resulting districts would be structured around the political interests the state perceives to be important and the political interests around which citizens vote. Consequently, enclave districting would allow states flexibility in districting while also potentially providing more effective representation for citizens.

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