The Supreme Court dealt a potential hammer blow to voting rights in America on Wednesday, ruling that federal courts could not judge issues of partisan gerrymandering because it would “countermand the Framers’ decision to entrust districting to political entities.” The decision could lead to supercharged gerrymandering from Republicans eager to entrench white minority rule for decades to come.
The 5–4 decision on Rucho et al. v. Common Cause et al., made along strict ideological lines, essentially means that voting rights advocates can no longer turn to the federal courts to remedy excessive cases of political gerrymandering in states like North Carolina and Maryland. The court still ostensibly forbids gerrymandering on explicitly racial lines, but partisan gerrymandering has been shown to closely correlate with race.
Announcing the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted that that “excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” but nevertheless claimed that despite the unjustness of it all, “that does not mean the solution lies with the federal judiciary”
In other words, in order to undo gerrymandered districts, a party must first come into legislative power by winning elections in those very districts that have been stacked against them.
In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan had harsh words for today’s ruling, saying that “the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”
Update, 11:02 a.m. ET: Experts and commentators widely denounced the decision.
This is a developing post and is being updated.