Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Supreme Court’s Decision In Evenwel v. Abbott

[In a line of cases beginning with Reynolds v. Sims in 1964, the Supreme Court established the “one person, one vote” principle, which provides that electoral districts need to have roughly equal populations so that no person’s vote is worth more than another’s.  In Evenwel v. Abbott this term, the Court considered what  metric should be used to count electoral district population consistent with “one person, one vote.” 

Today, the Supreme Court unanimously decided 8-0 that every individual, even those not eligible to vote, should be accounted for when drawing legislative districts.  Notably, the Court did not decide whether states or localities would even be permitted to draw electoral districts based on voter population.  Instead, the Court simply said that states or localities may – consistent with the Constitution – draw electoral districts based on total population.  Justices Thomas and Alito wrote separately, both concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito’s concurrence in judgment was joined by Justice Thomas.]

“I applaud today’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution allows states or localities to continue to draw their electoral districts based on the total population of residents.  The Court stated, ‘As the Framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible to vote.’  Today’s unanimous ruling is not only supported by our Nation’s long history of progress toward a more inclusive democracy.   It also reflects the reality that all Americans, including individuals who cannot vote – such as children and noncitizens – deserve to be represented in our democracy too.” 

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