Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

SCOTUS Rules Districts Be Drawn by Total Population, Not Voter Numbers

It’s a hard contrast to an agreement on the same issue in 1787 that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for districting purposes.
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme CourtAP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified in its April 4 Evenwel v. Abbott ruling that legislative districts should be drawn inclusive of all the people living within them, as has been the standard for at least the past five decades. Texas resident Sue Evenwel challenged that standard last year with the help of Voting Rights Act-foe Ed Blum, the director of the Project on Fair Representation, charging that districts should be drawn based on eligible voters, not total population. This would effectively exclude the interests of children, immigrants, the incarcerated, and many Latinos and African Americans who’ve been disenfranchised. It would also shift considerable political advantage to older, rural, white voters, who tend to vote Republican.

SCOTUS rejected Evenwel’s challenge, however, by a unanimous vote. Wrote Wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: