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Fall 2013
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ON POINT

Note on gerrymandering wins Burton Award

In a ceremony at the Library of Congress, Noah Litton ’13 received acclamation for a note he published in the Ohio State Law Journal.

The prestigious Burton Awards were established in 1999 to celebrate achievements in law, ranging from legal writing to reforms in law. Litton is a 2013 recipient of the Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing for his note “The Road to Better Redistricting: Empirical Analysis and State-Based Reforms to Counter Partisan Gerrymandering.” Law schools are only allowed to submit one entry, and Litton’s was one of only 15 student submissions to be recognized nationwide.

He accepted the award at a black-tie event in Washington, D.C. before an audience of 500 guests. Dignitaries included many of the managing partners and partners of the largest law firms in the United States, judges, law school deans, and professors from across the nation.

“It was a real honor to represent The Ohio State University. This school has done so much for me throughout my educational pursuits,” Litton said. “I am just happy to make good in some small way.”

His note focuses on the flaws of redistricting using the current partisan system. He suggests reform in the method of establishing nonpartisan redistricting commissions to halt gerrymandering by using “a combination of citizen participation and legislative endorsement of proposed district maps.”

Litton argues that “constitutional advances” should be made to guide states when selecting mapmakers and drawing district lines. He says reform must come at the state constitutional level, and analyzes which type of gerrymandering is most successful – settling on nonpartisan gerrymandering.

“I’m a big believer in ‘structural reforms’ to get at the heart of what stands in the way of progress,” he said. “Nonpartisan redistricting is a perfect example of a structural reform that would go a long, long way toward fixing a whole host of policy issues and challenges we face as a society.”

Posted in: Fall 2013, On Point