A New Brennan Center report penned by Eric Petry and Michael Li explores the potential impact of Evenwel v. Abbott, a closely watched case from Texas being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court that will decide whether states must change the way they draw legislative districts.
Like other states, Texas currently draws districts so they contain a roughlyequal number of people rather than voters. Indeed, over the course of American history districts have overwhelmingly been drawn this way.But the Evenwel challengers say Texas’s legislative plans are unconstitutional because while districts may contain approximately the same number of people, many vary widely in the number of eligiblevoters.But this new Brennan Center analysis shows the impact of a change would be far greater than expected and not confined to just a few states. In fact, if the Evenwel plaintiffs win and the rules are changed so lines must be drawn based on citizen voting age population instead of total population.
Nationwide, 21.3 percent of state house seats and 16.7 percent of state senate seats would be presumptively unconstitutional.
In eight states, the percentage of house or senate districts with constitutional problems would be more than 40 percent.
Every state legislative map in the country would become presumptively unconstitutional under Equal Protection principles and would need to be redrawn