Sunday, April 10, 2016

243.3 - Supreme Court unanimously smacks down attempt to redefine "one-person-one-vote"

Supreme Court unanimously smacks down attempt to redefine "one-person-one-vote"

Finally for now, we find that believe it or not, even if the court still had Skeletor on it, it still could do a good thing!

In a unanimous decision, on April 4 SCOTUS smacked down an attempt to rewrite the meaning of "one-person-one-vote" in a way that would have shifted state-level voting power away from generally more liberal people to generally more conservative ones.

The idea was hatched in the fetid brain of right-wing legal hack Edward Blum, who recruited a couple of stand-ins to put their names to a suit, which became named Evenwel v. Abbot, claiming that the way Texas drew up its state Senate redistricting map violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Currently and in line with decades of precedent, states can draw up district lines for state-level legislative offices in such a way that each district contains the same number of people (within a reasonable limit - a variation of about 10% is considered okay). All 50 states use this method.

The suit wanted this changed to have each district contain about the same number of eligible voters. Thus for example, children wouldn't be counted. Non-citizens, including those living here legally, wouldn't be counted. Those without the franchise because of a criminal conviction or other legal problems wouldn't be counted.

Because these and other groups are more heavily concentrated in cities, the change in counting method would shift the counted population - and thus the amount of representation - from urban areas, which are often more liberal, and toward rural ones, which are often more conservative. Which, of course, was the point.

The effort failed. Miserably. Writing for the six-justice majority (two others filed separate concurrences), Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bearing in mind the principle that elected representatives are supposed to represent all their constituents, not just voters, said the ruling was based on "constitutional history, the court's decisions and longstanding practice" and that adopting a new approach "would upset a well-functioning approach that all 50 states and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries."

In other words, Bam.

Quick footnote: This issue only involves state-level offices, not federal ones. The Constitution requires using a state's total population to apportion seats in the House of Representatives.

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