Commentary

(Un)Evenwel

Last month, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments for Evenwel v. Abbott, a case that has the potential to violently upend the American political system. Voters’ rights, particularly those of Latinos, hang in the balance. With less than 20 days until the Iowa caucuses and ten months to election day, the impending ruling will undoubtedly affect the 2016 presidential election. Ruling in favor of Evenwel would ultimately lead to widespread voting exclusion.

Over a half-century ago, the court famously declared the principle of “one person, one vote” in Reynolds v. Sims, mandating that states draw their legislative districts so that seats are “apportioned on a population basis.” That ruling determined that legislative districts would be divided equally among a state’s greater population, so that one district has just as many people in it as its neighbor districts. This division allows all people’s votes to carry the same weight, regardless of the district they live in. Evenwel, conversely, proposes that every district should have an equal amount of voters, but not necessarily people. By focusing exclusively on eligible voters, Evenwel excludes entire groups of the population.

Ruling in favor of Evenwel would remove political capital from rapidly-expanding minority populations who may not be eligible to vote. The Latino population is the fastest growing population in the U.S., and also the most politically coveted. With each election cycle, candidates have increasingly realized the importance of the Latino vote. Each year, over 400,000 Hispanic people are born in Texas, according to “The New York Times.” To approve Evenwel would be to reject the country’s changing demographics.

There are over 322 million people in the United States. Every single one of those people is a person. And the Constitution demands that every person be represented, regardless of their status as a voter. It is the duty of legislators to work in the interests of all of their constituents – eligible voters, non-eligible voters, children, inmates, non-citizens and immigrants alike.

President Barack Obama, in his final State of the Union address last Tuesday, said, “I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around.” The approval of Evenwel would cause the mass exclusion of young people from political tallies. It would fail to reflect the country’s swiftly-changing demographics. And, worst of all, it would dehumanize anyone who is not eligible to vote. When the Supreme Court votes on Evenwel, the justices should take into account people’s fundamental right to exist.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVIII.

Jan 15, 2016