The politically contentious topic of redistricting was front and center at the Supreme Court Tuesday, as the justices wrestled with a pair of cases challenging what factors states can and cannot consider as they draw lines. One case, out of Texas, looks at whether states should be required to take into account the number of voting-age citizens instead of or in addition to broader measures of population when setting up political boundaries. If the justices rule that the “one person, one vote” principle should be measured in part based on eligible voters, areas with high numbers of children or immigrants will likely see a loss of political power, while areas with fewer children and more U.S. citizens see a boost to their clout. Another case, out of Arizona, addresses whether political partisanship and concerns about qualifying for Justice Department approval under the Voting Rights Act are valid reasons to cause imbalances in the population of various districts.
Many of the justices were hard to read on both cases Tuesday, scoring rhetorical points for their various points of view on pet issues ancillary to the disputes, but not giving clear guidance about where the court is headed in either case.
Frequent swing Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee, did seem troubled that the districts in Texas differed by as much as 48 percent in terms of voting-age citizens. He asked why states can’t take account both of overall population and the number of potential voters in each district.
“Why is one option exclusive of the other? Why can’t you have both? You have population equality and voter equality, both, especially when you have indicated that a voter-based apportionment is valid and serves important purposes. And here it’s being completely–it’s that sort very substantially disregarded with this huge deviation,” Kennedy asked Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller. “Why can’t you use both?”
Full Article: SCOTUS wrestles with redistricting cases – POLITICO.