Evenwel v Voting Rights at SCOTUS

Today the Supreme Court hears the Evenwel v Abbott, the so-called “One Person, One Vote” case. This is the case ginned up by white rights activist Edward Blum.

A Blum Bag filled with bullpucky briefs and argle bargle

In today’s case, Blum wants to change how state legislative districts are drawn in order to preserve the whiteness, and Republicanness, of the Texas legislature. Currently, the districts are drawn up by population based on US Census data; the proposal is to replace that with a plan to draw the districts based on number of eligible voters. So a district that has, for example, lots of children and/or lots of undocumented immigrants (:::cough::: South Texas :::cough:::), will lose representation because kids don’t vote and, of course, undocumented immigrants only vote in the fever dreams of right-wingers. Legislative power would shift to rural and exurban areas, which is exactly what Blum wants.

Professor Rick Hasen, at the Election Law Blog, is pretty confident that the court will not rule in favor of Evenwel and his analysis is worth a read.

Tomorrow the court hears another Blum case, the Fisher “reverse-discrimination” case which is making its second appearance in a court trying desperately to find a case that will allow for removing any opportunity universities have to improve the diversity of their campuses (which they feel benefits everyone).

Really, we need a Court that will stop taking these craptastic cases over and over and over again (I call them the “Clarence Thomas Kicking the Ladder Over After You Got Yours” cases). It takes four votes to hear a case; the chief could end this reign of terror by Blum by refusing to take anymore.

  3 comments for “Evenwel v Voting Rights at SCOTUS

  1. JanF
    December 8, 2015 at 9:51 am

  2. JanF
    December 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Here is the link to the PDF of today’s oral arguments from Evenwel v Abbott and Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog summary: Argument analysis: The choice — be bold or practical

    Read more about these two cases and Blum:

    The Brennan Center: The Impact of Evenwel: How Using Voters Instead of People Would Dramatically Change Redistricting

    TNR: Up Next at the Supreme Court: A Challenge to Equality for All Americans

  3. JanF
    December 9, 2015 at 10:41 am

    The post oral argument analysis, Found on the Internets …

    Richard Wolf at USA Today:

    By the end of the hour-long oral argument on the most consequential case to come to the court so far this term, it seemed the conservative justices might have five votes to move away from using total population. But they couldn’t come up with a practical alternative.

    Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog:

    A total population standard isn’t what everyone wants, but it’s what we need to avoid chaos.

    A legislative map equalizing both total voters and total population would violate all sound redistricting principles, breaking up cities, separating communities of interests and producing grotesque shapes. Indeed, after Keller made these points, Kennedy seemed to concede the point: “That sounds highly probable to me.”

    Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

    It’s not clear that there are five votes to accept the Evenwel argument, but it’s clear that the conservative justices are bothered by what Kennedy sees as a massive disparity in some areas. Whether there is a will to upend a constitutional idea that has been undisturbed for 50 years and a methodology that is used in every state on the guarantee that the states can work out the details later is another matter. But there just might be.

    Writing in 1964 the court famously noted that “legislators represent people, not trees or acres.” The question the court must now decide is how to choose which people we want to represent. That proves far more complicated than counting trees.

    Ed Kilgore at NYMag:

    Justice Alito seemed sympathetic to the principle of “equality of voters” the plaintiffs are advancing. And worse yet, the usual swing vote on the Court, Justice Kennedy, seemed to be looking for a “compromise” between equal representation of people generally and of voters alone, perhaps through some cap on the degree of disparity in the number of voters among districts.

    There’s no reason to assume the Court is going to go that way, but Kennedy’s interest in a modification of one person, one vote, especially given the possibility of a ruling that would make voter-only redistricting a state option, rather than a requirement, remains troubling. A green light for red states to reduce representation for normally Democratic voters would probably be acted upon with devilish alacrity.

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