Live from the Gettysburg Battlefield: Clarence Thomas seems very unclear about who won the battle here...
Equal Representation Won a Qualified Victory at the Supreme Court | New Republic: "Clarence Thomas... tackled the ‘one person, one vote’ principle head-on...:
...‘The Constitution does not prescribe any one basis for apportionment within States,’ argued Thomas. ‘It instead leaves States significant leeway in apportioning their own districts to equalize total population, to equalize eligible voters, or to promote any other principle consistent with a republican form of government.’ According to Thomas, the ‘Court has never provided a sound basis for the one-person, one-vote principle.’
It’s worth considering the implications of this. When states were given a free hand to apportion legislatures by any method they saw fit, the result was the massive underrepresentation of minority voters. At the time Baker v. Carr was decided, for example, some state legislative districts in Tennessee had ten times the population (and hence, a tenth of the representation) of others. Such malapportionment was a major piece of the Jim Crow apartheid system.
To Thomas, this isn’t an issue. Many of the framers of the Constitution ‘viewed antidemocratic checks as indispensable to republican government,’ Thomas asserted. ‘And included among the antidemocratic checks were legislatures that deviated from perfect equality of representation.’ Thomas is not wrong in his characterization. But this doesn’t mean that, when deciding a Fourteenth Amendment case in 2016, we should be applying the democratic theories of political elites that preceded the Fourteenth Amendment by nearly a century.
Thomas’s concurrence is almost a perfect expression of the Republican Party circa 2016, as seen in Republican-controlled states like Wisconsin. Representing a dwindling share of the population, Republicans have the choice of trying to broaden their appeal or trying to suppress poor and minority voters. They have generally decided to do the latter; and if this is undemocratic, at least two allies on the Supreme Court have said that’s perfectly OK.
Today’s decision, then, is just one battle in a long war. Some states will probably take the Supreme Court’s invitation to dilute minority vote representation. Whether they can get away with it will depend on who controls the Supreme Court in 2016.