The Supreme Court considers the meaning of “one person, one vote.”

What Is the Meaning of “One Person, One Vote”?

What Is the Meaning of “One Person, One Vote”?

Law and the Supreme Court justices who interpret it.
Dec. 12 2015 2:07 PM

Amicus: One Person, One Vote 

The Supreme Court sets its sights on the bedrock principle that has shaped electoral maps for the past half-century.

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Listen to Episode 32 of Slate’s Amicus:

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For many decades, state legislatures deliberately kept in place voting districts that privileged rural voters over urban ones. In 1964, the Supreme Court famously declared this practice to be unconstitutional, ruling that states needed to redraw voting maps every 10 years to make sure each district contained roughly the same number of people.

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott, a case that could upend that principle of “one person, one vote.” The plaintiffs argue that the current system privileges voters from districts with large numbers of ineligible voters. They are calling for a brand new approach to apportionment based not on overall population but rather on the population of eligible voters. Attorney Andrew Grossman filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs and joins us on this episode to explain the plaintiffs’ case. Stanford Law Professor Nathaniel Persily filed a brief on the other side of the case and joins us to explain why he thinks the case could have grave implications. 

Finally, we listen back to a few highlights from the week’s other big case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, including the remark by Justice Antonin Scalia that “I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

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Amicus is sponsored by the Great Courses, offering a series of lectures about the impact that technology is having on the constitution and our rights. The series—“Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century”—is available right now at up to 80 percent off the original price if you visit TheGreatCourses.com/amicus.

Please let us know what you think of Amicus. Our email is amicus@slate.com.

Podcast production by Tony Field.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus.