The Supreme Court devoted Tuesday to a constitutional principle at the heart of American democracy, issuing one opinion and hearing two cases seeking to define the meaning of one-person, one-vote.
The argued cases, from Texas and Arizona, challenged long-standing practices in the drawing of political districts for state legislatures. Both have the potential to shift power from urban areas to rural spaces—and from Democrats to Republicans—in what could be the greatest upheaval in legislative districts since voting-rights rulings of the 1960s.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) spoke in front of the
Supreme Court on Tuesday about a lawsuit contending
the Constitution requires states to divide legislative seats
by eligible voter population. Getty Images
One of the suits, brought by two Texas voters, contends the Constitution requires states to divide their legislative seats by eligible voter population, rather than a total population that includes children, prisoners, some immigrants and others who can’t vote.
Attorney William Consovoy, representing the Texas voters, told the court that counting people prohibited from voting violates the one-person, one-vote principle the court announced in 1963. In Texas, he said, some state Senate districts, while nearly equal in total population, vary by nearly 50% in their voter population.
Nearly every state uses total population as the denominator in redistricting, in part because that is the only number the Constitution provides through the census. The 14th Amendment directs U.S. House seats be apportioned among the states according to “the whole number of persons in each state.” The Constitution doesn’t specify how to assign state legislative seats.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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