Lawyers’ Committee Applauds Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Upholding “One Person, One Vote”

Uncategorized, Voting Rights

In a unanimous decision issued today in Evenwel v. Abbott, the United States Supreme Court upheld the principle of “one person, one vote” and ruled that states may redistrict on the basis of total population. Challengers had sought a ruling requiring states to redistrict based on voter-eligible population, a narrow interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause that would have excluded many individuals from representation.

“We applaud the Supreme Court’s unanimous voting rights decision,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “By affirming the long-standing practice of redistricting based on total population, the Court has ensured that all members of our community are represented by elected officials.”

Basing redistricting decisions on total population is not only a widespread and long-standing practice (currently used in all 50 states), it also makes eminent sense from a policy perspective. As Justice Ginsburg wrote for the unanimous Court: “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote.”  Children, for example, are not voters, but they have a strong stake in matters of public education. Constituent services, such as navigating government bureaucracies, are provided to all residents in a district, not just to those who are voter-eligible, as the Court noted.

Though not focused upon by the Court, the decision has a particularly profound effect in states and localities with large immigrant populations, where some individuals who may not be eligible to vote still have a tremendous stake in the issues being decided by elected officials. Today’s decision ensures that no one is excluded from representation.