The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

What is a fair Congressional districting?

We haven't heard a lot about a Supreme Court case called Evenwel v. Abbott, but it raises an important question. What is a fair Congressional districting? Should Congressional districts have equal populations (the way they have been drawn ever since the “one-man, one-vote” decisions of the 1960s? Or should they have equal numbers of eligible voters? After all, if a district has half of its population composed of non-citizens, the remaining people have twice the voting power of the citizens in a district that has no non-citizens.

Making the districts equal in number of eligible voters seems logical, but it has political consequences. Because many of the districts that have large numbers of non-citizens are majority-Hispanic, and strongly Democratic. So redrawing districts to have equal numbers of eligible voters would make the House of Representatives more Republican (a result I would not mind, of course). But the question is, is that fair? I would say yes — after all, it is only citizens who vote, and so equality of numbers of eligible voters is more consistent with “one-man, one-vote.” But it is clear that the Constitution apportions seats by population, not by number of eligible voters, as the Fourteenth Amendment states:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.

Yet that same amendment also states:

But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

If course, both the “male” and the “twenty-one” parts are presumed to be changed in consequence of the Nineteenth and Twenty-sixth amendments, but isn't it clear that citizenship is a qualification for voting? And a districting that gives some citizens more voting power than others, because their district has a lot of non-citizens, seems to go against the spirit of this part of the amendment.

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