ECLECTIC RANT: Gerrymandering after Rucho v. Common Cause

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 13, 2019 - 04:35:00 PM

Gerrymandering is manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruled in Rucho v. Common Cause that federal courts cannot determine whether election maps are too partisan or gerrymandered. In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that the question is non justiciable by the federal courts.

This decision has raised the stakes for the 2020 election, leaving room for both parties to draw gerrymandered district lines with little fear of a federal court challenge gerrymandering. For example, In a major blow to Republicans who control the state legislature, a North Carolina State Court panel threw out North Carolina’s state legislative maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to draw up new ones in two weeks. This North Carolina decision could serve as a blueprint for legal challenges in other states.

Otherwise it will be up to the individual states to create independent election commissions that use nonpartisan means to draw House districts. 

The House of Representatives passed legislation this year that would force states to create such independent election commissions. However, it is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate. 

Currently, 21 U.S. states have some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission. Of these 21 states, 13 use redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district boundaries. 

This U.S. Supreme Court decision means Democrats must focus on finding and supporting people to run for state legislative bodies who, if elected, would support creating such nonpartisan independent election commissions.