A divided Supreme Court votes 8-0

Published 11:45 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Americans could be forgiven for saying they don’t recognize their country over the first three months of 2016.

Presidential politics usually brings out the worst in some people, but this year is something special, and we mean that in a bad way. Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, is handy with pointed insults against his campaign opponents, his critics, members of the news media and just about anyone who doesn’t just nod and smile when he talks.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, can’t seem to shake a challenger who is running to her left and before this election cycle was not generally considered much of a presidential candidate.

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The predictable pattern is upside-down.

Even the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is bogged down deep in election-year politics. The president has nominated a replacement and Republican leaders in the Senate have reacted by promising to do nothing. No meetings. No hearings. No vote on Merrick Garland, the judge President Barack Obama named as Scalia’s replacement.

Senate Republicans are content to let one seat on the highest court in the United States sit empty for at least a full 12 months.

Amid this disorder comes a hopeful sign. And it arrived Monday from the Supreme Court, no less.

Conservative activists brought a case before the high court challenging the traditional understanding of “one person, one vote.” The drawing up of political districts is normally done by counting all residents, which might include children and others not eligible to vote.

The activists wanted a more limited standard to apportion electoral districts based only on the number of eligible voters. That notion would have weakened the political power of urban areas that invariably are home to more immigrants and children not yet eligible to vote.

One person, one vote works perfectly fine, thank you very much, the justices said in a unanimous decision. That’s right, the vote was 8-0. We’d like to think it would have been 9-0 if Republican senators weren’t refusing to give Scalia’s replacement a vote.

Regardless, it’s good to know a divided court can reach common ground on an important principle.