Supreme Court Rejects Radical Re-Write of Constitution in Evenwel Redistricting Case

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  • Kathay Feng & Dan Vicuna
Six New Jersey Cities Joined Amicus Brief Opposing Constitutional Change

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 number of voters. The New Jersey cities of Newark, Trenton, Camden, Plainfield, Kearny, and Bridgeton joined 13 other counties and cities across the country to oppose this change.

“Today’s decision affirms one of America’s most fundamental values: that every person counts,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport.  “A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would have made millions of young people, non-citizen residents, and other non-voters invisible in our state legislatures. Our Constitution begins with the words ‘We the people;’ the court has declared today that that means everyone — not just those who vote – is entitled to equal representation at every level of government.”

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 – from Los Angeles, CA to South Bend, IN to Trenton, NJ – to argue that everyone, whether young or old, city-dweller or small town resident, deserves equal representation when it comes to providing police, fire, schools, and other services,” said Common Cause National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng. “We don’t deny police or fire protection to children because they are not registered to vote, so why would we deny fair representation in the New Jersey Legislature based on who is registered and who is not?”