Evenwel v. Abbott is a U.S. Supreme Court case on redistricting and every person’s right to fair representation. The plaintiffs challenged the long-standing practice in the U.S of counting every person when drawing state legislative districts and sought to require that states count only eligible voters. The court rejected this radical constitutional change and ruled 8-0 that states are allowed to continue counting total population.
Today, almost all state and local jurisdictions draw electoral districts based on total population. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution requires that total population be used when allocating congressional districts to the 50 states. That way, elected leaders represent equal numbers of people in each district. The Supreme Court has recognized that the right to equal representation demands that redistricting, whether at the state or congressional levels, be based on “We the People,” not some subset of the population.
At its heart, Evenwel was about whether every person in the United States would continue to be guaranteed representation by our elected leaders. If plaintiffs had succeeded, a constitutional contradiction would have been created, with different standards used for the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts. In addition to the logistical obstacles rendered by this lack of uniformity, residents of communities with a relatively high percentage of non-voters (such as children) would be at a disadvantage when seeking funding for essential state services such as education, water, police, and fire departments.