The US Supreme Court has finally decided to hear an issue that has interested me for several years – i.e., must legislative districts have equal numbers of eligible voters or equal numbers of people?
One of the bedrock fundamentals of American democracy is “one man, one vote.” In Reynolds v. Sims in 1964, the Supreme Court used this constitutional principle to outlaw legislative districts that were based on geography instead of the number of people. In reaching this conclusion, the Court had to use some mental gymnastics for rationalizing the fact that the U.S. Constitution specifically called for a U.S. Senate based on geography instead of the number of people. Apparently, America’s constitutional framework wanted the U.S. Senate to be an anomaly and all other voting districts to be one-man, one-vote because of the amorphous dictate for equal protection under the laws.
Yesterday, articles in USA Today and the New York Times, as is their wont, focused on the superficial partisan aspects of the issue instead of the underlying merits. The merits are whether proportional representation should consider children and illegal immigrants is districting. Although current districting does count children and illegal immigrants, it is hard to reason why, in a democracy, it should.
The partisan aspects, which the papers find more interesting, are that urban areas will be hurt because they tend to have relatively more children, and states on the south border – FL, TX, AZ, NM, and CA – will be hurt because they have millions of illegal immigrants.
Although I will be surprised if the Supreme Court fails to correct the current injustice, I remain shocked that the Supreme Court insists that states are required to provide an education to illegal immigrants.
The Ivory Tower often sees things differently.