April 4, 2016 – The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the arguments that legislative redistricting should be based on a citizens of voting age population instead of the total population that has been used throughout the nation’s history. The case of Evenwel v. Abbott challenged the way that Texas draws political districts improperly expanding the voting power of urban areas and therefore violated the guarantee of equal protection under the law under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.  The opinion, authored by Justice Ginsburg, concluded that:

“… the rule appellants urge has no mooring in the Equal Protection Clause. The Texas Senate map, we therefore conclude, complies with the requirements of the one-person, one-vote principle.  Because history, precedent, and practice suffice to reveal the infirmity of appellants’ claims, we need not and do not resolve whether, as Texas now argues, States may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population.”
Earlier this year, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan looked at the potential ramifications of a change in redistricting rules to investigate how the current Michigan districts might need to be altered.  The variances from the target populations in Michigan would be much less drastic than might be the case in Texas.  While we found that few of the current districts would have significant variation from the target population if citizens of voting age population were used instead of total population, the fact that those districts are not contiguous meant that the boundaries of nearly every districts would need to be altered to allow those districts to move closer to the target population.

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