Nate Persily on The Supreme Court’s Big Data Problem in Evenwel


Legitimate philosophical arguments can be made in favor of using one set of statistics over another — just as one could argue that some concerns in redistricting, such as keeping counties or communities intact, should override the concern for precise equality. A redistricting plan based on equal numbers of people, the system we have now, also ensures that the workload and constituent-related burdens of representatives are roughly equal. In effect, equal representation may be more important than equal voting power itself.

But the question that confronts the court as it prepares to hear the Evenwel case in the fall is whether the Constitution mandates the use of one statistic to the exclusion of all else. The fact that no accurate count of citizens exists should be the end of the matter. Unless the justices are prepared to mandate a new kind of citizen census — one never contemplated by the Constitution — then they should leave it to the states to draw their districts using the most accurate data available. The one person, one vote rule isn’t broken, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t try to fix it.



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