While the immediate reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the “one-person, one vote case” has been liberals and minority groups saying “Oh, S***” and conservatives getting excited, the case is much more complicated than that. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of plaintiffs, it would affect two distinct (and often confused) processes. Most articles I’ve read have focused on the affect of district lines.

However, the (and perhaps most significant) effect would be on the apportionment of congressional seats among the states. As Paul Mitchell has pointed out, states with a greater percentage of undocumented immigrants or documented non-citizen residents or even more kids (California, Texas) would lose congressional seats–since they are not considered in the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP).

Let’s pause on the last factor. While most of the commentary has been about undocumented residents, those under 18 would also no longer count. California has the third highest percentage of residents under 18, behind DC and Utah. And, of course, DC doesn’t get House seats. Shouldn’t our kids count when education funding is being decided in Washington?

Then there is the impact on redistricting, which could create a couple of additional Republican districts in California.

For California Republicans and Democrats alike, it’s in the state’s interest on the apportionment issue. The last thing the state could afford is to get bogged down on intra-state partisan district line-drawing while our influence in the House of Representatives is ceded to smaller, less diverse states. It would be bad for our technology and film industries, as well as our ability to influence federal funding formulas that determine how much of our tax dollars come back to the Golden State.

Let’s think about the implications before we drink our Kool-Aid and jump into our partisan corners.


UPDATE: Speaking of “one person, one vote” (the Evenwel case), Richard Winger and Rick Hasen point out that it is unlikely to affect the apportionment of congressional districts. “One person, one vote” is based on Article 1, while apportionment of congressional districts across states is based on the Fourteenth Amendment.

Despite what I wrote yesterday, I agree with their analysis, which could lead to a strange situation in which districts are distributed to states based on total population, but then lines are drawn based on registered voters.