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Aaron Gould Sheinin

Supreme Court ruling on redistricting a plus for Democrats

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The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP/Susan Walsh)

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP/Susan Walsh)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed Democrats a major victory in the redistricting wars.

A unanimous court ruled in Evenwel v. Abbott that states must use total population rather than registered voters to draw district lines. The ruling maintains current practice and is seen to help Democrats, especially in fast-growing communities with large numbers of minorities and immigrants.

Moving to only using registered voters would have put greater emphasis on whiter suburban areas with higher concentrations of voters.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A conservative legal group had urged the court to require states and localities to draw districts based on their eligible voters, a rule that would have shifted power away from areas that have large number of residents who are not citizens or who may not vote, including immigrants, children and prisoners.

But Monday’s ruling expressed no opinion on whether a state may adopt such a rule, if it chooses. That explains why all the justices could agree on the outcome.

And the Washington Post notes the case was brought to challenge Texas’ policy of using total population:

Just one group is challenging  the population-counting method for creating districts.  The conservative Project on Fair Representation sued on behalf of an official in the Texas Republican Party, who noted that the state’s equal-population state Senate districts vary widely when counting  eligible voters.

The Project on Fair Representation has challenged Affirmative Action cases in the past. Its leader, Edward Blum, told The Post’s Robert Barnes that drawing districts based on eligible voters is just more equitable.