Supreme Court puts off weighing in on partisan gerrymandering
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday put off weighing in on whether gerrymandering is unconstitutional – allowing, for now, maps in Wisconsin and Maryland to stand.
The cases deal with, gerrymandering, the method of drawing maps that some argue is politically motivated to give one party an advantage in elections.
In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court said the plaintiffs in the case didn’t have enough standing to challenge the statewide assembly maps. The case was sent back to the lower courts.
The Supreme Court said the lower court must reconsider that case so the plaintiffs can make a more detailed argument about how the districts impacted their civil rights.
The opinion says that plaintiffs can argue that their personal vote was diminished because their district was configured to favor one political party over another but that they can’t sue to challenge the whole state’s map.
“Here, the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims turn on allegations that their votes have been diluted. That harm arises from the particular composition of the voter’s own district, which causes his vote- having been packed or cracked- to carry less weight than it would carry in another, hypothetical district. Remedying the individual voter’s harm, therefore, does not necessarily require restructuring all of the State’s legislative districts,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the opinion.
The court also upheld a lower court’s opinion not to issue an injunction to allow officials to redraw the congressional map in Maryland before the 2018 election, supporting the District Court’s decision that it was too close to the election for the court to interfere with the district map.
The District Court in the Maryland case said it wanted to wait until the Supreme Court ruled in the Wisconsin case to take further action,
“The Court reasonably could have concluded that a preliminary injunction would have been against the public interest, as an injunction might have worked a needlessly “chaotic and disruptive effect upon the electoral process”,” the court wrote in an unsigned decision.
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