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Monday, April 04, 2016

Republicans must now count people as human beings rather than as "voters"

Finally, the Unites States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has ruled in favor of real and living people, regardless of their citizenship or voter eligibility status.

Republicans argued before the high court in favor of reducing the influence of ordinary people as legitimate voters and to marginalize minority representation. Rather, the Republicans would like to suppress voting rights to only include those who can demonstrate an eligibility to vote. If they had been successful, Republicans (this case was argued by Texas) would have marginalized the rights of minorities or other disenfranchised groups of people. Instead, they argued to only count the people who are eligible to vote, when assigning representation in voting districts. In other words, if a district happened to be poor, or include an Indian reservation, the district would only count the numbers of those people who live there if they vote as being qualfied as a person, rather than the total population regardless of age, race, immigrant status, etc.. Therefore, only those who can access the voting places and who can read the ballots would be counted. Rich districts, of course, like in Greenwich Connecticut, for example, would have no problem counting people because most of the number of affluent people already vote. Therefore, a rich area of the nation might have fewer people than an area with a poor Indian reservation, but the number of voters in the affluent areas could be greater in number than those who might live where people were impoverished.. This argument goes under the title of "Makes No Sense", except for in the minds of regressive thinking Republicans. 

It's interesting how Republicans prefer to marginalize voting rights and spew right wing quasi libertarian regressive policies, rather than change their policies to help improve the human condition.

Nevertheless, the Surpeme Court's unanimous decision announced today has squelched any misunderstanding about the "one person-one vote" standard. Indeed, all people in a voting district will continue to be counted, regardless of their voting status.
Image result for justice ginsburg
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the unanimous opinion although Justice Alito and Justice Thomas wrote differing points of view on the same decision = 8/0 decision for one person one vote

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Supreme Court Affirms ‘One-Person, One-Vote’ Standard-
Ruling is blow to conservative activists who argued the Constitution forbids counting immigrants or prisoners.

By JESS BRAVIN Updated April 4, 2016 7:35 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled states can continue to apportion legislative seats according to total population rather than limiting representation to citizens or voters, a blow to conservatives who challenged the decades long method of drawing political maps.

Conservative activists had sued in Texas, arguing the Constitution forbids counting those who lack the right to vote, such as immigrants, prisoners or children.

The suit alleged the Texas legislative map, which counted everyone, effectively diluted the representation of citizens in rural, Republican-leaning areas in favor of Democratic-trending cities where the population includes a higher proportion of immigrants and children who can’t vote.

“We hold, based on constitutional history, this court’s decisions, and long-standing practice, that a state may draw its legislative districts based on total population,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.

No state has yet chosen to use a significantly smaller population basis for allocating political power, and thus “we need not and do not resolve” whether such practices would be constitutional, the court said, leaving open the possibility the issue could return if a state moves to exclude some residents from representation.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the court’s main opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with the outcome but each wrote separately to emphasize different legal arguments.

A contrary ruling would have upended the ways states have implemented the “one person, one vote” principle the court established in the 1960s to sweep away legislative maps that gave rural voters disproportionate power over city dwellers.

Since then, the near-universal practice has been to draw the maps based on total population without regard to residents’ legal status. Subsequent electoral disputes have centered on whether the racial composition of the resulting districts complies with the Voting Rights Act, or whether population deviations among districts fall within allowed thresholds.

Texas defended its legislative map, but argued that states have the constitutional authority to use a subset of total population in allocating political power if they wish. The court declined to address that question, agreeing with the Obama administration that it was unnecessary to reach that far in the present case.

“We are pleased with the unanimous decision of the court. My office is committed to defending the Constitution and ensuring the state Legislature, representing the citizens, continues to have the freedom to ensure voting rights consistent with the Constitution,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written statement.

Texas, like other states, relies on data from the census, which is required by the Constitution to count the “whole number” of inhabitants. Officials say it would be difficult to find equally reliable data on a subset of that population.

A handful of states, however, currently modify the total population number when redistricting to account for transients, most notably Hawaii, which doesn’t count out-of-state students or military personnel who are stationed on the islands but registered to vote in other states.

Justice Ginsburg, in her opinion, observed that while the Constitution explicitly mandates U.S. House districts be divided according to total population, the plaintiffs argued it simultaneously forbids, through the Equal Protection Clause, the practice in allocating state legislative seats.

The lawsuit was filed by Edward Blum, an activist whose Project on Fair Representation has sought to undo laws and practices he believes violate the Constitution by providing favorable treatment to minorities. Another Supreme Court case funded by Mr. Blum,challenging affirmative-action admissions to the University of Texas at Austin, is expected to be decided by June.

Mr. Blum said he was disappointed, but expected that some states would begin considering using smaller population bases, particularly ones that exclude illegal immigrants and noncitizen lawful residents, after the next census.

“As the nation approaches a new round of redistricting in 2020, the Project on Fair Representation will encourage jurisdictions throughout the country to use some metric of citizen population—especially when using total population would result in citizen-voter inequality,” Mr. Blum said.

Nina Perales, vice president for litigation at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which filed a friend of the court brief for the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus and Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said the decision “protects the right of all people across the U.S. to be represented by their officials and be counted when electoral maps are drawn.”

Justice Ginsburg noted that when the Constitution was adopted in 1789, vast portions of the U.S. population were excluded from voting: all women, and many men who didn’t own sufficient property. Yet they were counted for apportioning House seats, as were slaves—although in a notorious compromise, each was worth 3/5 of a free person.

Today, those who can’t vote “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,” she wrote. “Total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito said that while total population was a permissible standard, it shouldn’t be considered sacrosanct and perhaps could be reconsidered if a state attempted to use a different method.

Justice Thomas joined most of that opinion, but wrote separately to say that he disagreed with more than a half century of election law precedent.

“The majority has failed to provide a sound basis for the one-person, one-vote principle because no such basis exists,” he wrote. States should have “significant leeway in apportioning their own districts to equalize total population, to equalize eligible voters, or to promote any other principle consistent with a republican form of government,” he wrote.

Write to Jess Bravin at

(I don' tnderstand what Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, but apparently he didn't use his reasoning to disuade the unanimous decision. Therefore, one person one vote stands. Hurray! Human beings count.)

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