Supreme Court Declares Partisan Gerrymandering Cases Nonjusticiable; Issues Confusing Opinion in Census Case
The Supreme Court issued two opinions with direct implications for redistricting this morning, on the last day of the October 2018 Term. In a consolidated opinion for Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the Court held that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts." In Department of Commerce v. New York, the Court remanded the "census" case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its rather confusing opinion that held both that it would be permissible for the the Department of Commerce to ask a question regarding citizenship on the census and that the Department did not provide an accurate reason for the question's inclusion.Read more
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause, a partisan gerrymandering claim against North Carolina's congressional map, and Lamone v. Benisek, a First Amendment retaliation partisan gerrymandering claim against one Maryland state legislative district. Both cases were before the Court last term and were sent back to the district courts for further proceedings. As in the past, today the justices continued to search for a justiciably manageable standard for considering partisan gerrymandering claims:Read more
This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral argument for the second time in a racial gerrymandering challenge to Virginia's 2011 House of Delegates district map in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill. Back in 2017, the Supreme Court upheld one of the challenged 12 districts and sent the remaining 11 back to the district court for further review after determining that the district court had applied the incorrect standard. On remand, the district court found that race had been the predominant factor in drawing the 11 districts and threw them out, and the House of Delegates appealed.Read more
On Friday, a North Carolina state court judge struck down North Carolina's voter ID constitutional amendment, which passed in November with over 55% approval by the state's voters. The judge's rationale was particularly strange and troubling:
A North Carolina judge on Friday voided new state mandates requiring photo identification to vote and also limiting income tax rates. He ruled the GOP-controlled legislature lacked authority to put those constitutional amendments on the ballot because lawmakers had been elected from racially-biased districts two years earlier.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins sided with the state NAACP, which had argued that General Assembly was “illegally constituted” because federal judges had declared the district maps used in the 2016 legislative elections illegal racial gerrymanders.Read more