Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Equal Representation

The U.S. Supreme Court just issued an important decision -- and that decision was a huge victory for equal representation in the United States.

The case had been brought forward by some Texas right-wingers. They said that states should not have to divide house and senate districts by total population, but could divide those districts by registered voters, or by actual voters. They wanted to do that kind of division because it would allow them to draw more districts favorable to Republicans.

But the Supreme Court was unified in its opposition to this idea -- voting 8 to 0 to support the division as it is now (on the number of residents, and not the number of voters). The court said that all residents, including non-voters, deserve equal representation -- and that means the districts should have a roughly equal number of residents.

The court's opinion was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She wrote:

“Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.” 

“Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 states and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries.”

“. . .representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote.”

“Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies. By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

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