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.”
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.