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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 June 2022

Daniel Kuehn*
Daniel Kuehn: Principal Research Associate, The Urban Institute. Email:


James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock took a keen interest in the United States Supreme Court’s reapportionment decisions of the 1960s, which established a “one person, one vote” standard for state legislative apportionment. This paper traces the long arc of Buchanan and Tullock’s opposition to the “one person, one vote” standard. The Calculus of Consent offers a highly qualified efficiency argument against “one person, one vote,” but over time Buchanan and Tullock grew even more vocally critical of the decisions. Buchanan ultimately advocated a constitutional amendment overturning “one person, one vote” in a private set of recommendations to Congressional Republicans. This paper additionally assesses Tullock’s 1987 complaint that scholars and judges neglected The Calculus of Consent’s analysis of reapportionment. A review of the reapportionment literature between 1962 and 1987 demonstrates that while The Calculus of Consent was frequently cited, the literature generally ignored its analysis of the efficiency of apportionment standards.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the History of Economics Society

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This paper benefitted significantly from comments by Art Carden, Paul Dragos Aligica, Alexander Cartwright, Pedro Duarte, Andrew Farrant, David Glasner, Calvin TerBeek, and three anonymous reviewers.



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