Today the U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-0 in Evenwel v. Abbott to allow states to continue to count total population when drawing state legislative districts after each census. The plaintiffs sought an unprecedented change to the U.S. Constitution forbidding states from using census counts of total population and requiring them to draw districts with equal numbers of eligible voters. Common Cause filed its own “friend of the court” brief in this case and organized a second brief signed by 19 counties and cities across the country.
“Today, the Supreme Court upheld a fundamental constitutional value that every person counts,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause national redistricting director. “We now turn our attention to the states to monitor any efforts to deprive millions of young people, residents, and other non-voters of those constitutional protections. As a representative democracy, our country was built on the bedrock principle that we elect legislators to represent We the People – everyone who lives within a district is a constituent, not just those who vote.”
Had the plaintiffs prevailed, a nationwide mandate to count only voters for redistricting would have left communities with large concentrations of non-voters – such as the young and non-citizen residents – severely underrepresented in state legislatures.
“Common Cause joined cities and counties across the country to argue that everyone – young, old, city dwellers, small town and rural residents – deserves equal representation when it comes to providing police, fire, schools, and other services,” said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. “We don’t deny a child police protection because they are not registered to vote, so why would we deny fair representation in the General Assembly based on who is registered and who is not?”
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.
Office: Common Cause Pennsylvania
Issues: Voting and Elections