The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will review a major challenge to how populations are counted and political districts are drawn, in a case that arises from Texas but affects other states as well.
Conservatives want the court to rule that states must balance legislative districts based on eligible voters, rather than a total population count that includes unauthorized immigrants. Texas currently apportions state districts so they have roughly equal total populations, but with disparities in the number of eligible voters
“Doing so fails to ensure that the votes of citizens in one part of Texas are given approximately the same weight as the votes of citizens in another part of Texas,” the conservative challengers stated in a legal filing.
The case, called Evenwel v. Abbott, returns the high court to the politically delicate question of how to translate the constitutional guarantee of “one man, one vote.” The oral argument will be heard during the court’s next term that starts in October.
Texas officials had urged the court not to take the case.
“Multiple precedents from this court confirm that total population is a permissible apportionment base under the Equal Protection Clause,” Texas Solicitor General Scott A. Keller argued in a brief.
Texas was outnumbered, though, by myriad conservative advocacy groups that pressed the Supreme Court to hear the challenge.
“Using total population alone for reapportionment purposes without the consideration of alternate counting methods can unfairly, unreasonably and unconstitutionally dilute rural voters,” attorneys for Tennessee legislators and the conservative Judicial Education Project wrote.
As is customary, the Supreme Court did not offer a written explanation or further commentary on its decision to hear the Texas case. At least four of the court’s nine justices must agree for a petition to be granted.