Today, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court's decision in Chatfield v. League of Women Voters (League of Women Voters v. Benson below) and remanded for further consideration in light of Rucho v. Common Cause. There was nothing unexpected or even very newsworthy in this, but what is newsworthy is the hand-wringing among Democrats and in the mainstream media. The misleading headlines and stories that gave the impression that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Michigan Republicans.
This case was a partisan gerrymandering challenge to Michigan's 2011 state legislative and congressional maps, drawn by a Republican-controlled legislature. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan struck down Michigan's maps in April. The panel ordered new maps and special elections in 2020 for changed districts. After intervenors appealed to the Supreme Court, the Court stayed the remedial map drawing in May. In June, the Supreme Court decided in Rucho that partisan gerrymandering claims represent a political question outside the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Today's order merely applies Rucho to the Michigan case.
To read today's many news stories, however, one would think that the Supreme Court, in a biased fashion, issued a new decision in favor of Michigan Republicans. Whether partisan gerrymandering claims should be justiciable and whether Rucho was correctly decided can and are debated (the RNLA does not think the courts should decide when something is "too partisan" based on choosing among theories by political scientists), but today's order was nothing out of the ordinary for the Court. It simply vacated and remanded for further consideration in light of a precedent decided after the lower court's decision. After Rucho, the Eastern District of Michigan does not have the power under the Constitution to hear the case.
And yet some of the mainstream media treated this as a major event. The Hill reported (emphasis added):
The Supreme Court, in another defeat for gerrymandering reformers, overturned a lower court's ruling that Michigan's electoral districts are overly partisan and need to be redrawn.
In a story titled, "Supreme Court Tosses Michigan Gerrymandering Ruling in GOP Win," Bloomberg said:
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling that would have forced Michigan’s congressional and state legislative voting maps to be redrawn to give Republicans less of an advantage.
AlterNet, which claims to be progressive journalism free of mainstream media bias, bemoans (emphasis added):
The U.S. Supreme Court has just handed the Michigan Republicans a win by tossing out a lower court ruling that would have forced a redrawing of congressional and state legislative voting maps. A lower court ruled the GOP had gerrymandered the voting maps so extensively they violated the U.S. Constitution.
Not to mention the outrage on Twitter:
The Supreme Court just allowed Michigan to continue gerrymandering districts to benefit Republicans.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 21, 2019
Our job: Fight back. Expand voter turnout. Make state legislatures and courts end partisan gerrymandering. Overturn Citizens United. Create a vibrant democracy. https://t.co/KHTpy5I2y8
Today's SCOTUS ruling allowing Michigan R's to rig elections through gerrymandering should be a wake up call to those who think the next President and Congress can restore democracy. Democracy's restoration would hurt the GOP, so the Court won't allow it https://t.co/TqmMuueKF4— Aaron Belkin (@AaronBelkin) October 21, 2019
The US Supreme Court voted today to allow the Michigan GOP to use their blatantly gerrymandered district maps until 2022. It's further evidence that the current Court is just another partisan tool less concerned with justice than perpetuating & preserving Republican corruption.— Dave Wagner (@Dbwagner104) October 21, 2019
Republican Supreme Court justices who got on the court with tricks and bluster allow other Republicans to suppress the vote with tricks like gerrymandering.https://t.co/XtfI3Fe32D— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) October 21, 2019
In addition to showing a stunning lack of understanding of today's essentially procedural order and how the Supreme Court works, these tweets and some of the news coverage show liberals and Democrats' larger objective: to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court now that they feel they've lost control of it. Sadly, a poll released today shows that they may be succeeding. Democrats have seemingly given up on attempting to convince voters that their policies and candidates are superior and thereby retake the presidency and the Senate (the constitutionally prescribed method for changing the Supreme Court). Instead, they seek to destroy our system of government and undermine the rule of law.