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U.S. Supreme Court Heard Case Today That Threatens to Silence Minorities and Other Groups, Making Them Invisible in the Eyes of State Governments

For Immediate Release December 8, 2015

Contacts:

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Asks the Supreme Court to Uphold the One Person, One Vote Principle that Has Effectively Guided State Redistricting for 50 years

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, which challenges the use of total population as an apportionment base, claiming it violates the “one person, one vote” principle of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The Lawyers’ Committee submitted an amicus brief with the Supreme Court asking to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim and uphold the precedent established in Reynolds v. Sims that recognizes total population as a constitutional apportionment metric.

Following today’s oral arguments in the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, the Lawyers’ Committee issued the following statement from Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel and senior deputy director:

“Texas is permitted under the Constitution to use total population as the apportionment base in creating its legislative districts. We believe that the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of this long-standing practice used in virtually every redistricting effort in this country.”

Background

For decades, the overwhelming majority of states have used total population as an apportionment base. It has worked for 50 years, providing a neutral criterion for redistricting and upholding the “one person, one vote” principle. In fact, in the half-century since the Supreme Court announced the “one person, one vote” principle, no court has said that the use of total population as an apportionment base is impermissible. Changing this well-established standard before an election would cause massive disruptions in the states’ election systems. Numerous redistricting cases, including critical ones in states such as Texas and Florida, would be thrown into chaos before the 2016 election. Furthermore, states would be forced to scramble to rewrite their apportionment laws and work with a new, untested standard right before an election.

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About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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