Redistricting & Gerrymandering Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will learn how state legislatures and governors can manipulate the redistricting process to gain an advantage for their party in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures. Students will learn what constitutes gerrymandering and the typical types of gerrymandering used. Students will role play state legislators and collaborate to draw both gerrymandered and not gerrymandered districts. Students will consider the foundational redistricting case Baker v. Carr (1962) and classify arguments made in the case. In addition, students will evaluate the proper role of the Supreme Court in state redistricting cases. 

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2015)

Did Proposition 106 violate the Elections Clause of the US Constitution by removing congressional districting power from the state legislature? The case summary provides the facts, and the Supreme Court’s answer to this question.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: State/Local Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Shaw v. Reno (1993)

Did the North Carolina residents’ claim that the 1990 redistricting plan discriminated on the basis of race raise a valid constitutional issue under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause? North Carolina drew legislative districts to create a majority black district.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

LULAC v. Perry (2006)

Does a redistricting plan motivated primarily by partisan considerations violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2006.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Rucho v. Common Cause (2019)

This case explores the following issues: Do Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina (the plaintiffs) have constitutional standing to make these partisan gerrymandering challenges? Are the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims able to be heard by the Court? If plaintiffs have standing and their claims are justiciable, is North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander?

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Baker v. Carr (1962)

Do federal courts have the power to decide cases about the apportionment of population into state legislative districts? This case relates to voting equality- one person’s vote should be as meaningful as another’s.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Decoding Elections: Getting Counted

Throughout U.S. history, Americans have silently stewed and actively protested that presidential elections are unfair and fixed against them. Do they have a point? In this lesson, students will understand why people are critical of the political process. They will discuss the topic: Do all voters have an equal voice in American democracy? Registration at NewseumED is required to view this resource.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Open Captions, Photography, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

One Person, One Vote

In this documentary, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and other experts discuss how the principle of one person, one vote emerged from a series of landmark decisions, including Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims, based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. A PDF lesson guide accompanies the video.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12