Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Supreme Court to hear rural-urban redistricting case from Texas, aimed at non-citizens

"The U.S. Supreme Court will take up an appeal that could give rural voters more clout, agreeing to decide a long-simmering question about the rules governing state efforts to equalize the size of their voting districts," Greg Stohr reports for Bloomberg. "The justices will hear an appeal from two voters who say Texas unconstitutionally allocated its state Senate seats on the basis of total population rather than on the number of eligible voters."

If the Supreme Court sides with the Texas voters, it "might shift legislative seats away from areas with large Hispanic populations," Stohr writes. "The issue is an offshoot of the court’s landmark 1964 Reynolds v. Sims ruling, which established the 'one person, one vote' principle and required state and local voting districts to have roughly equal population."
In Texas each Senate district in the maps redrawn in 2013 consisted of about 811,000 people, Michael Lindenberger and Sylvan Lane report for The Dallas Morning News. "It’s why seven Senate districts slice through Dallas, but a single district—the 28th near Lubbock—can stretch across all or parts of 51 counties in far West Texas."

"Lawyers for Titus County GOP chairwoman Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger of Montgomery County argued that only the number of eligible voters, not total residents, should count when deciding how to draw a voting district," Lindenberger and Lane write. "Those ineligible to vote—children, immigrants, felons and the mentally incapacitated—shouldn’t count, they said."

"Conservative scholars hailed the court’s announcement, saying it’s time for the court to decide whether one person, one vote really means one voter, one vote," Lindenberger and Lane write. Others say the "changes could weaken the influence of voters in cities, where the percentage of residents who are not eligible to vote is often higher than in rural areas. And others asserted that lawmakers and local officials should represent the interests of all people, whether or not they are eligible to vote." (Read more)

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