28 May 2015

The Fact That This Passed the Laugh Test Is Concerning

In a case from (where else) Texas, the plaintiffs are claiming that redistricting should be done on the basis of registered voters, not on the basis of people:
The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a case that will answer a long-contested question about a bedrock principle of the American political system: the meaning of “one person one vote.”

The court’s ruling, expected in 2016, could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans.

The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.

A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas.


The Supreme Court over the past nearly 25 years has turned away at least three similar challenges, and many election law experts expressed surprise that the justices agreed to hear this one. But since Chief Justice John G. Roberts has led the court, it has been active in other voting cases.

In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, a closely divided court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

The new case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, concerns state and local voting districts. But “the logic of the decision in Evenwel will likely carry over to congressional redistricting,” said Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.
This is a big deal, and the fact that they are even hearing this is an indication of just how corrupt and partisan the conservative wing of the Court.

This would be a complete reversal of decades of precedent, and if the Court to overturns their prior rulings, it would the most unprincipled and biased ruling by the Court since Bush v. Gore in 2000.

Note also that by putting impediments to registration between citizens, in Wisconsin, photo ID sites avoid urban areas for example, it possible for evil people to further skew redistricting.

Of course, for "jurists" like Scalia and Alito, this is a feature, not a bug.

The effect of this bill might be less than anticipated though: There were 2,266,800 adults in detention in 2011, and 70,792 juveniles incarcerated in 2010*, and particularly for the prison population these are overwhelmingly held in rural areas.

These inmates are counted as residents of the district in which they are held, and as such, they give a big bump to rural representation.

If these people are not counted for the purposes of redistricting, this would move what would likely be over a million people out of rural districts.



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