10/29/15 One Person One Vote

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There are 435 members of the House of Representatives.   After each census, congressional districts are redrawn according to population shifts.  In the last few decades, the south and west and have gotten more districts while the north has lost some.

Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court weighed in on this topic [in the case of Reynolds v Sims].  The high court ruled that legislative districts must represent about the same number of people. It falls under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.  Everyone’s vote should carry about the same weight.

A half century later, this principle is under further scrutiny.  The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Evenwel versus Abbott.  Here’s the argument.  The average population of a Congressional district is 710,000.

But some districts have so many foreigners ineligible to vote that the votes of remaining U.S. citizens carry more weight.  A violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

Here’s an example.  Iowa’s First Congressional District has 770,000 people. About 29,000 are foreign-borne.  So at least 97 percent are or could be eligible to vote.  California’s 34th District has 720,000.  350,000 or half are foreign-borne.  In this example, California’s 34th District voters have twice as much power as does Iowa’s First Congressional District voters.

Some foreigners have become U.S. citizens.  But the underlying argument remains.  Some voters have greater power than others.

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