Civil Rights Group Warns of Discriminatory Impact of Redistricting by “Voting Population”

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December 7, 2015                                                

Civil Rights Group Warns of Discriminatory Impact as Supreme Court to Determine if Districts Can Be Redrawn by “Voting Population”

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the redistricting case, Evenwel v. Abbott. While the Supreme Court has consistently applied a metric of total population in redistricting cases, plaintiffs argue that “voting population” should be the new basis of state district lines. The national civil rights and racial justice group Advancement Project served among the leading co-counsel on a friend of the court brief filed by a coalition of civil rights groups contending that this standard would discriminate against voters of color. Today, Advancement Project released the following statement in anticipation of the oral arguments:

“The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was enacted so that people of color would no longer be considered only three-fifths of a person, and now the Evenwel plaintiffs argue that some people should be counted as zero-fifths of a person,” said Advancement Project Senior Attorney and Director of Voter Protection Katherine Culliton-González. “This is discriminatory and nonsensical. Affirming voting population as a basis for drawing legislative lines would push communities of color out of the realm of equal representation because these populations represent larger percentages of persons under 18, permanent residents who have not yet naturalized, and people who face legal and practical obstacles to the franchise. The Supreme Court ought to defend the values of representative democracy and reject this unconstitutional scheme that would result in chaotic and discriminatory redistricting across the country.”

“The premise of representative government is equal representation for equal numbers of people,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. “Basing district lines on voting population exacerbates the exclusion of people who already face barriers to the ballot, especially people of color. These barriers include language access issues, voter identification requirements, voter purges, difficulty getting to polling places and disenfranchisement of people with prior felony convictions. People impacted are members of our community who deserve to be represented in our democracy—just as the Constitution affirms. Excluding these populations from our district calculus defies the logic of representative democracy and our nation’s values of equality. To ensure all people have a voice in our democracy, the Court must thus affirm ‘total population’ as the basis for redistricting.”


Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.