The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a challenge brought by conservatives to Texas state Senate redistricting maps that they say violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of one person, one vote.
The challengers, backed by various conservative groups, say the districts signed into law in 2013 do not equally distribute voters because they are based on the total population of each district. Some of the districts include large populations of Latinos who are not eligible to vote because they are noncitizens or children.
A ruling for the challengers would shift power to rural areas and away from urban districts in which there are large populations of immigrants. The case could also be significant for other states with large immigrant populations.
The districts were initially imposed by court order ahead of the 2012 elections, and were later adopted by the Republican-led state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, in 2013.
The challengers, voters Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, claim the districts violate the U.S. Constitution guarantee of equal protection under the law as they are at odds with the principle of one person, one vote.
The court's 1964 ruling in Reynolds v. Sims established the one person, one vote principle, and means that a state's legislative districts must have roughly the same number of people. But the court has never determined whether the state must count everyone or just eligible voters — or has some leeway to choose.
Evenwel and Pfenninger are backed by the Project on Fair Representation, a conservative group that has a history of challenging laws that take race into account.
The challengers say that in the districts where they live, which have a high proportion of people eligible to vote, their vote has less weight than it would in districts with a low proportion of potential voters.
The court will hear oral arguments in the case in its next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2016.
The case is Evenwel v. Abbott, U.S. Supreme Court, 14-940.