The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to define what it meant by “one person, one vote” a half century ago. The justices will consider a challenge brought by two rural voters in Texas who claim their state Senate ballots carry less weight than those cast in urban areas with large numbers of non-citizens ineligible to vote. Under the current system in nearly all states, state legislative districts are drawn with roughly equal populations. The standard dates back to decisions made by the Supreme Court in the early 1960s.
If the justices change the standard from total population to legal voters, illegal and some legal immigrants would not be counted, along with children and most prisoners who have committed felonies. That would equalize the power of each vote but result in districts of unequal population.
It also would make it harder for Hispanics in ethnic areas to elect the candidate of their choice, because their voting strength would decline, or the districts would be less compact and subject to legal challenge. That could help Republicans in rural areas and hurt Democrats in cities.