Supreme Court upholds 'one person, one vote'


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to change the way state and municipal voting districts are drawn, denying an effort by conservatives that could have increased the number of rural, mostly white districts at the expense of urban, largely Hispanic ones.

I don’t know what to think of this but that is because I don’t understand how it impacts civil rights.


It’s really a states rights case. How districts are apportioed has always been left up to the states, it isn’t something the constitution talks about; or as Justice Thomas said in the ruling, “The choice is best left for the people of the states to decide for themselves how they should apportion their legislature.”


I think it means that areas with a high number of illegals receive greater representation than an area with mostly legal citizens.


It seems to concentrate political representation in cities at the expense of suburbs and rural areas.


Basically true. Although in reality the ruling doesn’t concentrate (which implies the ruling causes some change), it merely endorses an approach already being used by every state.


It does not even do that. It the ruling very narrowly decides that state are not required to assign voting district in any particular manner. They have the right to use any method not otherwise unconstitutional.


No. It does nothing. The lawsuit tried to force states to assign voter districts based on citizens over the age of 18 and eligible to vote. The court ruled that state are not so required, though they may if they wish.

This is actually an issue that goes back to the slavery and the drafting of the Constitution. Slave states wanted Congressional seats assigned according to total population; thus their non-voting slave populations would boost the influence of these states in Congress.

Non-slave states argued for the “Three-fifths Compromise”, that used only three-fifths of the enslaved population in the allocation formula for seats in the House of Representatives. It prevented slave owners from controlling the House with seats allocated based on their slave populations, despite the enslaved individuals not being allowed to vote and petitions these Representatives!

The issue today is similar, but sort of the reverse. Cities with large non-citizen populations tend to get more seats in the state legislature, because they have larger populations. Even though non-naturalized immigrants cannot vote, they still have the right to petition the representatives serving their districts.

The lawsuit before the court sought to force states to allocate seats based only on US citizen population. This would have given more seats to communities with larger citizen populations, but not necessarily larger total populations. While this is a legal option for states to chose, it is a state legislature’s prerogative to decide if this method is best for their situations.

Forcing the states to allocate voting districts based only on citizen population could have a discriminatory effect on** legal non-citizens** in certain areas. Allowing states to choose their method, rather than requiring a single method, allows states better flexibility to avoid or mitigate this discrimination.


It is a victory for civil rights.


When I first read the headline I thought “uh oh, Chicago’s in trouble…” Turns out they’ll be able to carry on as usual. ::rolleyes:


Thomas didn’t write the opinion, he wrote a concurrence. The binding opinion of the Court was written by Ginsburg and simply says the equal protection clause does not require apportionment by eligible voter population. She specifically writes that the Court is staying out of the question of whether drawing districts by eligible voter population is constitutional or not.

Thomas and Alito obviously believe it is constitutional because they used states rights reasoning in their concurrences, but it will take a state changing how they draw districts and the resulting lawsuits to settle the issue.


Can you please explain how and why it is a victory for civil rights? I don’t understand how or why it is a victory for civil rights.


Non-citizen legal residents still have a constitutional right to petition their elected officials, even if they are not eligible to participate in the elections. Forcing a distribution of voting districts based on citizen population, rather than total population could cause a adversely impact legal resident’s representation in state or federal government. Areas with high immigrant populations would have a smaller proportional number of representatives compared with areas with fewer immigrants or other foreigners.

It is a civil right to petition one’s government and representatives, whether one is a citizen or not.


Thanks for this! Lucid, cogent.


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