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Washington, D.C., April 4, 2016 – In response to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Evenwel v. Abbott, upholding Texas’s use of total population in drawing electoral districts, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We applaud the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today in Evenwel v. Abbott to protect the principle of “one person, one vote.” In recognizing that history, jurisprudence and practice all support the use of total population as a metric for drawing electoral districts, the Court today ensured that political representation will continue to include all people, regardless of their eligibility to vote. This is a victory not only for Texans, but also for the vast majority of people living in states that currently draw their districts based on total population.
We hope that in deciding that total population is an acceptable, but not required, metric for drawing electoral districts, the Supreme Court has closed the door on alternative redistricting plans. All people have a right to be counted in drawing electoral districts and when represented by their elected officials and we hope that states will uphold that principle.
The right to representation is fundamental not only to the American political system, but also in the Jewish tradition. The Sage Hillel taught: “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirke Avot 2:5). We are proud that the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis joined the Children Defense Fund’s amicus brief affirming that our elected officials should represent and be held accountable to all members of the community, including children, non-citizen immigrants and others not eligible to vote.