This Article presents a defense to the challenge that social choice theory presents to voting rights. Arrows theorem, the crown jewel of social choice theory, holds that no voting procedure that meets some minimal conditions of democratic fairness can ensure transitive, meaningful outcomes. The theorem provides a powerful argument against the ability of any court to devise objective vote dilution standards. Because such standards are now a necessary element of claims under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Arrows theorem may be viewed as a fundamental threat to the viability of all such claims. The defense of voting rights presented in this Article does not question the merits of the theorem (a difficult task indeed), but instead uses the theorem, some recent (and not-so-recent) work in social choice theory, and existing voting rights law to answer the fundamental challenge that Arrows theorem poses to voting rights jurisprudence.
Tulane Law Review
Grant M. Hayden, The Limits of Social Choice Theory: A Defense of the Voting Rights Act, 74 Tul. L. Rev. (1999)