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This post was written by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and is published here with permission.
Texas made a compelling case today when it argued, in Evenwel v. Abbott, that the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the longstanding constitutional principle that states count every resident when apportioning legislative districts to ensure equal representation for all.
The use of total population for redistricting has overwhelming bipartisan support among state and local governments and has been upheld by the Court as constitutional for more than a half-century in an unbroken line of cases, said the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization and a separate entity from the NAACP, in its “friend of the courtâ€ brief in the case.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of LDF, reacted to the hearing. “The proposition of rendering invisible a whole swath of our population for the purposes of representation is astonishing in a democracy. This case resonates powerfully for African Americans who, for a significant part of this nation’s history, were counted as 3/5ths of a person when legislative districts were drawn. And even after being counted as full persons, jurisdictions adopted voting schemes that denied black people the right to vote. Redistricting schemes, like the one advanced in Court today, are just as nefarious if not more so than those of our past because they threaten to make select groups, like children (who total 75 million nationwide) and people who cannot or chose not to vote, 0/5ths of a person, that is, completely invisible, for purposes of state redistricting. The Supreme Court should not countenance such a reversal of the progress that our country has made toward equal representation for all people and of its well-established precedent.â€
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