The latest Republican stunt to disenfranchise voters has blown up in their faces like a trick cigar.
The U.S. Supreme Court provided the Grand Old Party with the arse kicking it so richly deserves on Monday with its 8-0 decision in Evenwel v. Abbott, wherein Republicans had attempted to capsize the redistricting processes across these United States by undoing the age-old democratic principle of “one person, one vote.”
The scheme was this: Allow state legislatures to further gerrymander the country by allowing districts to be drawn only around the population of registered voters instead of the population as a whole.
Why do this? Well, Republicans can’t win when districts are drawn fairly and people show up to vote, so they’ve been busy these past several decades attempting to rig the game in any way they can to draw the district unfairly and discourage voters from showing up to participate in their self-governance.
We’ve seen it with voter ID laws, and we’ve seen it with gerrymandering. We’ve seen their attempts to limit early voting, their registration misinformation campaigns, and their targeting of minorities when purging voter rolls.
Some of their biggest successes have sadly come at the hands of the Supreme Court of the United States, most notably the gutting of key provisions in the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, the legalization of political bribery in Citizens United, and the final obliteration of campaign finance laws in McCutcheon.
So it wasn’t a surprise to many of us when the same people who brought us the odious Shelby County case came back with a new scheme to undo more Civil Rights-era court precedent, this time targeting “one person, one vote.” But this time it didn’t work. This time SCOTUS delivered a swift and decisive kick to their collective derrières with an 8-0 decision in favor of small “d” democracy.
“In agreement with Texas and the United States, we reject appellants’ attempt to locate a voter-equality mandate in the Equal Protection Clause,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “As history, precedent, and practice demonstrate, it is plainly permissible for jurisdictions to measure equalization by the total population of state and local legislative districts.”
I’m sure we’re all shocked to find out that by undoing Civil Rights-era precedent, the Republican Party was scheming to tilt apportionment toward an older, whiter, more-conservative electorate. The court saw through this and correctly ruled that decades of fairness should not be changed for the political convenience of the Republican Party.
“Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries,” Ginsburg wrote. “Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.”
Boo to the yah. In other words, eat it, Republican Party.
Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper has been on about the Evenwel v. Abbott redistricting case since at least December, when he penned some op-eds for a couple Ohio newspapers on the subject. We’ll now turn the mic over to Mr. Pepper for some well-earned chest thumping.
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the right-wing activists that were trying to throw out the democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote,’ upend the legislative redistricting process all across the country and cause electoral chaos — all for political purposes.
This legal principle has ensured equal representation for everyone in America, no matter where they live, for decades. If the plaintiffs in this case had their way, they would have left out millions of people from the legislative redistricting process, including more than 2.6 million young people here in Ohio, who would have lost their right to equal representation.
In addition, this case could have been a huge power grab away from Ohio’s cities, which is why we worked with the mayors of Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo to participate in an amicus brief in support of ‘one person, one vote.’ Ohio Democrats believe America is best served when we count everyone, and everyone counts in our democracy.”
Hear, hear, Mr. Chairman, hear hear.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.