Update: Evenwel v. Abbott

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott, the one-person, one-vote case.  All 8 members of the Court voted that the Equal Protection Clause permits states to use total population numbers, not eligible or actual voters, in drawing their state legislative districts.  My prediction that the Court would uphold Texas’s system turned out right.

In short, the Court ruled that the current practice of all 50 states complies with Equal Protection.  The six-justice majority opinion (Justices Thomas and Alito concurred only in judgment) held that states may use total population to create their equally-populated legislative districts.  The Court did not go further by deciding, as the Obama Administration wanted, that total population is the only proper method.  Nor did it take the opposite tack, as Texas wanted, by expressly blessing any system states may want to follow.  Instead, the Court kept its opinion not-too-hot and not-too-cold.  This case leaves the law largely as the Court found it.

Beware of Justices citing national consensus (or even international "norms") to support their decisions.  It is often far from true that those weathervanes actually indicate what the law is; and the same justices who rely on such indicators often pick and choose when to do so, depending on the outcome of the case.