As if voting rights weren’t being threatened enough all across the country, the GOP had one more scheme lurking behind the court doors, but a unanimous Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) wasn’t convinced. This time, it was a pathetic effort to upend the very basic, and longstanding principle, of “one-person, one-vote” by changing the drawing of legislative districts to reflect total “eligible voters” instead of total population.
The notorious Ruth Bader-Ginsburg wasn’t having it as stated here:
“Settled practice confirms what constitutional history and prior decisions strongly suggest. Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have long followed. As the Framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible to vote.”
If I could paraphrase — “We’ve already talked about this like a thousand times. We even put it in the damn Constitution. Get over it.” And she wasn’t alone as the rest of the one-person-short court concurred, leading to a unanimous 8-0 victory for voting rights.
This case was brought by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has not been shy about his dislike of the SCOTUS. Like previous redistricting efforts that led to badly gerrymandered districts in several states, the process in question allowed for the creation of more division and segregation in states where Republicans control state government.
It provided state legislators a new mechanism to draw larger districts of mostly white, rural voters, where Republicans usually win, and consequently to push more densely-populated areas into smaller pockets. This leads to a weakening of each individual vote for those in more highly-populated areas, which generally vote Democratic all the way down the ballot.
The reasoning behind this and so many other voter suppression tactics is somewhat unnerving, possibly explaining why so many people still don’t think it’s actually happening. But these concepts are far from new as co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Paul Weyrich, set the stage over 30 years ago when he explained to a conservative religious group that:
“Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
For the next 30 years, Republicans would continue trying to suppress the vote through a variety of tactics. But now that they’ve defeated the relevant portions of the Voting Rights Act, and inexplicably convinced us of rampant voter fraud that can be eradicated by a piece of plastic, they’re starting to run low on fuel, and they need a new theme.
So how about this: What if we compromise that the vote of some people effectively equals less than a vote…maybe by a 3/5 margin or so, thereby making the vote of the other people equal more than a vote? Yeah, that could work. Has that ever been tried?
The Supreme Court of the United States already said no throughout history. And now, a split court offers one more resounding and unanimous no. Finally, voters get a win.
Featured image by Matt Wade via Flickr, available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license