“One Person, One Vote” Heads To Supreme Court

This has made the NY Times very upset. Why?

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a voting rights case that has the potential to shift political power from urban areas to rural ones, a move that would provide a big boost to Republican voters in many parts of the nation.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, will address a question many thought had been settled long ago: What is the meaning of the principle of “one person, one vote”?

The principle, rooted in cases from the 1960s that revolutionized democratic representation in the United States, applies to the entire American political system aside from the Senate, where voters from states with small populations have vastly more voting power than those with large ones. Everywhere else, voting districts must have very close to the same populations.

But the Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on who must be counted: all residents or just eligible voters?

The difference matters, because people who are not eligible to vote — children, immigrants here legally who are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants, people disenfranchised for committing felonies, prisoners — are not spread evenly across the country. With the exception of prisoners, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas.

Their presence amplifies the voting power of people eligible to vote in urban areas, usually helping Democrats. Rural areas that lean Republican, by contrast, usually have higher percentages of residents eligible to vote.

Getting beyond the NY Times’ tortured concern that Democrats will lose some political power, what this comes down to is “who is represented?” SCOTUSblog noted

The Supreme Court famously said, in 1964, that “legislators represent people, not trees or acres.” That was its basic explanation for getting away from the traditional pattern of mapping election districts by geographic area, rather than by the people who are to be represented. But the lingering question is: who are “the people” who are represented?

They could be the voters who actually go to the polls to exercise that right. They could be the people eligible to vote, many of whom stay away from the polls. They could be only the U.S. citizens. They could be all the people, even those who do not have the right to vote — because they are children, non-citizens, or prison inmates, for example.

The plaintiffs want district apportionment to be determined by voters, as in, people who are eligible to vote. The suit makes an interesting case: should people who aren’t eligible to vote be counted in the census in terms of developing voting districts? A case could be made that non-eligible to vote US citizens should be counted, but, not non-citizens, regardless of whether they are legally or illegally present.

Of course, this has driven the reliably nutjob Salon to be nutjob, and they take it down the road of raaaaacism. Shocking, eh? They say this is a “dangerous assault on voting rights”.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was enacted so that people of color would no longer be considered only three-fifths of a person; the Evenwel plaintiffs now argue that some people should now be counted as zero-fifths of a person. This offensive scheme would dilute the ability of communities to elect the candidates of their choice and would stifle resources allocated to the districts where these populations have been undercounted. This simply cannot be rationalized in a democracy.

In a sane world (which is not Salon, obviously), the discussion would be centered on whether US citizens who are not eligible to vote would be included in the population count when creating voting districts. The insane leftists have made it so that we have to discuss whether people who are legally or illegally present in the United States should be counted, because they supposedly deserve representation. The length of legal VISAs varies. But, the vast majority do not even approach 10 years. The US holds a census every 10 years. Why should they be counted?

Illegals? Why should they be counted at all?

Evenwel v. Abbott marks a critical turning point. Our nation can take a regressive pivot backwards or affirm our core values of equality and justice. While the Supreme Court could let the Evenwel plaintiffs force chaotic and discriminatory redistricting schemes upon us all, the better choice is to uphold our most fundamental right to equal representation.

The central question goes back to “why would non-US citizens be counted for representation in the first place? They aren’t US citizens.”

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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