We talked briefly yesterday about SCOTUS accepting a challenge to the traditional understanding of “one person one vote” in a case from Texas. This is turning out to be even a bigger deal than I initially expected, particularly among Latino groups who see it as a direct threat to their political representation in both Washington and in state capitals. But as Paul Waldman points out at the Plum Line, it’s going to be a very big deal for Republicans as well, who will likely see this as yet another way to entrench their control of legislative bodies. Paul considers this a direct analogue to what happened with King v. Burrell: yesterday’s fringe legal theory became tomorrow’s party orthodoxy:
[B]efore long, every Republican is going to decide that they firmly believe, as the most fundamental expression of their commitment to democracy and the vision of the Founding Fathers, that only eligible voters should count when tallying population to determine district lines.
One thing to watch out for as this plays out is the role of the conservative media. If I’m right, very soon you’re going to see Fox News hosts and radio talkers like Rush Limbaugh doing segments on this case, in effect instructing conservatives on what’s at stake and how they should think about the issue. That consistent drumbeat won’t only affect the conservative leaders and rank-and-file, it could even affect the Supreme Court justices, who will hear the arguments being made in the media in support of these plaintiffs. After a while, a legal theory that sounded absurd will begin to seem at the very least to be mainstream. In short order, there will be universal agreement on the right. And it could have a real impact on political power even if the plaintiffs lose.
This last point refers to the fact that all the attention will alert Republicans to the reality that using voter-only data for redistricting decisions has probably been an option all along–one they will probably take in states where they have the power, which is quite a few at present.
To the extent Republicans get excited about this, it will also exacerbate their unhappy relationship with Latinos. In fact, it will mean not one but two major federal cases–the other being the litigation over Obama’s executive actions on immigration–where Republicans are directly aligning themselves against Latino interests. And that doesn’t count King v. Burrell, which would deny a lot of Latinos health coverage.
But hey, it’s hard to think strategically when you see unelected judges identifying a whole new way to screw over those people.