As we reported yesterday, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 Monday in a closely followed legal challenge that will allow (but not require) states to count every resident when reshaping state legislative districts after each census (instead of just registered voters).
While the plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the Constitution requires states fashion districts based on their number of voters, a change would have left communities with large concentrations of non-voters – such as the young and non-citizen residents – severely underrepresented in state legislatures.
Voting-rights advocacy and good-government groups lauded the ruling.
The good-government group Common Cause noted that taxpayer dollars for things like schools and roads now flow to districts based on their total population, not just their eligible-to-vote counts if districts were drawn based only on eligible voters, millions of lawful permanent residents and everyone under age 18 could be left out.
That means that vital public services used by everyone – like schools, fire and police protection, and roads – would be spread unevenly, with the largest share of money going to areas with a higher voting age population, Common Cause noted.
Here’s what Common Cause President Miles Rapoport had to say about the ruling:
“(The) decision affirms one of our most fundamental values as Americans: that every person counts. We now turn our attention to the states to monitor and combat any effort to deprive millions of young people, non-citizen residents, and other non-voters of constitutional protections. Our nation’s charter begins with the words ‘We the People;’ that means everyone – not just those who vote – is entitled to equal representation at every level of government.”
And here’s what Common Cause National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng said:
“Common Cause joined cities and counties across the country – from Los Angeles, CA to South Bend, IN to Atlanta, GA – to argue that everyone – young, old, city-dwellers and small town residents – deserves equal representation when it comes to providing police, fire, schools, and other services. We don’t deny children police protection because they are not registered to vote, so why would we deny fair representation based on who is registered and who is not?”