The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling on Monday for a case that will rile amnesty opponents for years to come.
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All eight justices on the high court agreed on Evenwel v. Abbott, a 2013 case related to the redistricting of 31 seats in the Texas Senate. Voters Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger alleged that Texas’ redistricting rules were unconstitutional because districts were not divided in ways that equalized both total population and voter population, the Hill reported Monday.
In short, the plaintiffs argued that Texas was jeopardizing the “one person, one vote” principle of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Districts in the Lone Star State can vary by as much as 40 percent due to illegal immigrants, other non-citizens and children under 18 years of age, the Washington Times reported after the ruling.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion, which affirmed an earlier ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s in favor of Texas.
“As the framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible to vote,” Ginsburg wrote, the website reported. “Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates and in receiving constituent services. By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total-population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”
Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito also issued concurring opinions.
“There is no single ‘correct’ method of apportioning state legislatures,” Thomas wrote. “And the Constitution did not make this court a centralized politburo appointed for life to dictate to the provinces the ‘correct’ theories of democratic representation or the ‘best’ electoral systems for securing truly ‘representative’ government.'”
Alito agreed with his fellow justices, but said the court should not have said it is not mandatory states use total population when drawing voter districts.
“Whether a state is permitted to use some measure other than total population is an important and sensitive question that we can consider if and when we have before us a state districting plan that, unlike the current Texas plan, uses something other than total population as the basis for equalizing the size of districts,” Alito said.
ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro cheered the decision.
“There is a reason that every state has chosen to apportion its state legislative districts based on total population,” Shapiro said, the Dallas Morning News reported. “The argument that states are forbidden from treating everyone equally for redistricting purposes never made any constitutional sense and was properly rejected today by a unanimous Supreme Court.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also weighed in on the ruling.
“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,” Paxton said, the newspaper reported.