It is tempting to think of the plaintiffs in Evenwel v. Abbott as conservatives. After all, the brainchildbehind this new “one person, one vote” lawsuit, Ed Blum and his Project on Fair Representation, brought us the demise of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder case and continued attacks on affirmative action in the second coming of theFisher case. But the theory the Evenwel plaintiffs pursue is anything but conservative: it is about taking power away from the states and having the Supreme Court overturn precedent by imposing through judicial fiat a one-size-fits-all version of democratic theory unsupported by the text of the Constitution or historical practice. Evenwel should be seen for what it is: not a conservative case but an attempted Republican power grab in Texas and other jurisdictions with large Latino populations.
Evenwel is a case which should be equally disturbing for conservatives and liberals. For conservatives, it is a case which challenges existing precedent for no reason, undermines federalism concerns, and goes against constitutional text, history and practice. For liberals, the case looks like little more than a Republican power grab, seeking to have the Court take away discretion for states in an arena in which states should have some leeway in deciding on the appropriate means of equal representation. It forces states to draw districts under a court-mandated theory that those without the vote, including children, felons, and non-citizens, do not deserve representations in state legislatures.
This is the rare case where liberals and conservatives can unite behind the state of Texas. Texas has properly asked the Supreme Court to leave the “one person, one vote” question where it has resided for almost fifty years: with the states.