APRIL 04, 2016
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch reacted to today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court in finding that the “one-person, one-vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population only, rather than voter population, when apportioning state voting districts. Judicial Watch said that the decision was “political” and would “not stand the test of time.”
The Supreme Court ruled this morning unanimously that Texas was constitutionally justified in drawing state electoral districts based on total population.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated:
The Supreme Court’s Evenwel decision undermines the principle of “one man, one vote.” The decision will encourage politicians to fill their legislative districts with more non-citizens and fewer voting Americans. This abuse could lead to unequal voting power for voters in districts with large numbers of alien residents. Under this decision, 100,000 black American voters in one state legislative district would have the same voting power as 10,000 white American voters in another district with 90,000 non-citizens. Even though total population is the same in both districts, voting power is radically different. These types of abuses, already present in Texas, will spread nationally. This is one reason this political decision by the High Court won’t stand the test of time.
Judicial Watch joined with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in the filing of two amici curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Sue Evenwel, a Texas resident who filed a lawsuit to overturn a Texas “malapportionment” law (Sue Evenwel, et al. v. Greg Abbott, et al. (No 14-940)) and (Sue Evenwel, et al. v. Greg Abbott, et al. (No. 14-940)).
Judicial Watch and AEF argued to the court that:
Texas is devaluing the votes of certain of its citizens by improperly including noncitizen nonvoters when determining the “equal population” of legislative districts. Under federal law and the laws of all 50 states, only citizens may vote in federal elections. Texas’ scheme to give weight to nonvoting noncitizens along with lawful voters is contrary to the principles embodied in citizen voting laws.
In June 2013, the Texas legislature passed “Plan S172,” apportioning senatorial voting districts according to the total number of citizens, including illegal aliens, who live in a district, rather than according to the total number of voters or potential voters. As a result, the high numbers of non-voting-eligible immigrants – whether legal or illegal – in Texas’ urban centers substantially inflated the voting power of the lesser number of eligible voters who also reside in those districts. The situation is particularly acute in urban areas like Dallas and Houston, where up to 50 percent of voting age Hispanics are not currently U.S. citizens.
In June 2014, Texas citizens Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, both of whom live in areas “overpopulated” with eligible voters as compared to other Texas state senate districts, brought suit claiming that the law violated the “one person, one vote” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On November 5, 2014, a three-judge federal district court dismissed the suit, and on December 4, 2014, Evenwel and Pfenninger filed their notice of appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Judicial Watch-AEF brief argued that the districting law almost cuts in half the voting power of some Texas citizens, as compared to others.