By Bronte Price, PoliticKING
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday, in favor of upholding that states may count all residents, whether or not they are eligible to vote, in the drawing of election districts. Upholding the ideals of "one person, one vote," the Supreme Court refused to change the way state and municipal voting districts are drawn. This ruling stymies an effort by conservatives that could have increased the number of mostly white rural districts at the expense of urban, largely Hispanic districts.
According to the New York Times, the ruling mostly helped Democrats. The "one person, one vote" case, Evenwel v. Abbott, was one of the most high-profile cases of the court's term. It is being considered a major victory for civil rights groups that opposed allowing states to draw districts based on the number of voters, rather than total population. The unanimous ruling leaves the current method of counting residents when drawing state and local voting districts.
BREAKING: SCOTUS unanimously rejects Texas GOP attempt to limit voting power of Hispanics & other minority groups https://t.co/nSShQLktr4
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2016
Six justices agreed with and signed onto Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opinion, although Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the most conservative members of the court, agreed to the result but not the reasoning.
“We need not and do not resolve,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, whether “states may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population.”
"Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 states and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries," Ginsburg wrote.
— POLITICO (@politico) April 4, 2016
Thomas and Alito agreed that states cannot be forced to switch to using only eligible voters in drawing districts, however they said that the Constitution does not require that approach.
"The choice is best left for the people of the states to decide for themselves how they should apportion their legislature," Thomas wrote.
"Whether a state is permitted to use some measure other than total population is an important and sensitive question that we can consider if and when we have before us a state districting plan that, unlike the current Texas plan, uses something other than total population as the basis for equalizing the size of districts," Alito wrote.
The justices all agreed that it is important to keep districts relatively equal in terms of population so that all residents have the same access to their elected officials. "There is a voting interest," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said when the case was debated. "But there is also a representation interest."
Here’s what Jesse Ventura has to say about voting rights:
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