Supreme Court Rejects Radical Re-Write of Constitution in Evenwel Redistricting Case
- Viki Harrison
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 City of Atlanta joined a brief Common Cause organized along with 18 other counties and cities across the country to oppose this change. Atlanta attorney and Common Cause National Governing Board member Emmet Bondurant drafted a second brief that Common Cause signed.
“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 from Los Angeles to South Bend to Atlanta to argue that everyone – young, old, city-dwellers and small town residents – deserves equal representation when it comes to providing police, fire, schools, and other services,” said Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico. “We don’t deny a child police protection because they are not registered to vote, so why would we deny fair representation in the New Mexico Legislature based on who is registered and who is not?”