POTENTIAL POWER SHIFT AS COURT WEIGHS 'ONE PERSON ONE VOTE,' by Adam Liptak
A closely divided Supreme Court on Tuesday struggled to decide "what kind of democracy people wanted," as Justice Stephen G. Breyer put it during an argument over the meaning of the constitutional principle of "one person one vote."
The court's decision in the case, expected by June, 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 state legislative races in large parts of the nation.
The basic question in the case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, is who must be counted in creating voting districts: all residents or just eligible voters? Right now, all states and most localities count everyone,
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 eligible voters in those areas, usually helping Democrats. Rural areas that lean Republican, by contrast, usually have higher percentages of eligible voters.
The case, a challenge to voting districts for the Texas Senate (asks) the court to require states to count eligible voters...
...The case's partisan overtones were not acknowledged during the argument, but the court's four Democratic appointees asked questions suggesting that they generally favored counting everyone while several of the five Republican appointees said that voter equality was an important interest.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., for instance, seemed attracted to counting only voters ' It is called 'one person one vote,'" he said. "That seems designed to protect voters."
But Justice Sonia Sotomayor said there were other interests at stake. "There is a voting interest," she said, "but there is also a representation interest." She meant that politicians represent all their constituents, not just the people who can vote.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underscored that point by noting that women were counted when districts were drawn long before they gained the right to vote in 1920.what eye thynk: Urban vs. rural demographics clearly indicate that a decision in favor of Evenwel would favor Republicans in electing state legislatures and could change the face of our state governments for generations to come.
If rural areas are given sway over decisions that will effect urban citizens, it seems to me that the majority would be ruled by the minority--and that's not the way American democracy is supposed to work.
You can read Mr. Liptak's entire article here.