If Republicans were counting on using gerrymandering to stay in power, the Supreme Court is about to wreck their plans.
Gerrymandering is not exactly a recent invention. Political parties have been doing it since the founding of our nation.
But in 1986, the Supreme Court finally ruled that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional via the Equal Protection Clause, and gerrymandering on racial grounds has been illegal since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But Republicans have been committing racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering for years now, especially since 2010, which is why Democrats can garner more total votes but win fewer seats in Congress.
As we head toward the 2018 Election, Republicans are ramping up their gerrymandering efforts in a desperate bid to keep control of both the House and Senate for Donald Trump. But Republicans may very well lose the redistricting tool that they have been relying on, and that’s a win for the country and democracy.
The Supreme Court is about to take up Rucho v. Common Cause, a case that could have serious implications on the state of North Carolina and the nation at large.
At stake is the very future of our democracy. If the court sides with Republicans, gerrymandering can be expected to continue and there would be little that Democrats can do about it short of winning majorities to reverse it, which would be incredibly difficult if Republicans can keep gerrymandering the district lines.
That case will not be decided in time for the 2018 Election, a decision which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor disagreed with. But, their dissent may mean good news for Democrats.
According to ThinkProgress:
What’s especially interesting about Tuesday’s order, however, is that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor both dissented. They would have granted the request to hold an expedited hearing in Rucho.
There’s no way to be certain why exactly Ginsburg and Sotomayor disagreed with their colleagues — but the most likely explanation is that, despite this temporary setback in Rucho, the Court is about to hand down very good news to opponents of partisan gerrymandering.
The reason why it is speculated that the outcome of this case will be a major blow to Republicans is that the Supreme Court is allegedly preparing to rule against partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin in Gill v. Whitford, a case that was heard last October.
If Ginsburg and Sotomayor know that the Court is about to uphold the Wisconsin gerrymander, it is very unlikely they would want to place another partisan gerrymandering case on the Court’s docket. Ginsburg and Sotomayor are probably the most liberal members of the Supreme Court. If Whitford is going to end in a loss for them, they would not want to compound that loss by taking up another, similar case.
So, by dissenting to the Court’s decision not to expedite Rucho v. Common Cause, Ginsburg and Sotomayor may be signaling that the Supreme Court is about to rule against partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, which is why they want the Rucho case to be heard sooner rather than later.
Again, this is just speculation at this point. The Supreme Court acts in mysterious ways sometimes, but ThinkProgress makes a good argument here, especially considering that the Supreme Court recently refused to delay a decision made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requiring state lawmakers redraw the gerrymandered congressional map before the 2018 Election.
Again, these decisions should be easy for the Supreme Court to make. Gerrymandering is unconstitutional and illegal. Letting it continue would be a major disservice to our democratic process. For now, Ginsburg and Sotomayor have given us hope that Republicans won’t be able to get away with gerrymandering their way into power much longer.
Featured Image: Joe Ravi Via Wikimedia Commons/CC-By-3.0.