Supreme Court Watch: Partisan Gerrymandering
By Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, Inc. | June 20, 2018, 9:38 p.m.
As the court enters its final month of its term, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will announce decisions on the first day of every work week during June. So far we’ve seen decisions announced about abortion and LGBTQ rights as well as voting rights and voter registration. This week, the court punted on a case about partisan gerrymandering, dismissing it for lack of standing.
The case, Gill v Whitford, came from the state of Wisconsin, where voters argued that state assembly districts were unfairly drawn in a “partisan gerrymander.” This means that districts are drawn specifically to be advantageous to increase the representation of politicians who hold a certain partisan ideology. This was the first case that the Supreme Court heard related to partisan gerrymandering in over a decade, and could have had major ramifications for 2020 redistricting.
Instead, the Supreme court unanimously decided to dismiss the case, and decided 7-2 to send it back to lower courts for further consideration.
As reported by Sam Levine for the Huffington Post, “The court’s decision establishes a new legal framework for challenging partisan gerrymandering. Plaintiffs can’t simply challenge a statewide map, but they can challenge the boundaries of their own districts if they can show they have suffered a specific harm.”
While no definitive decision was reached like many hoped, this is not the end of legal challenges to partisan gerrymandering. Lower courts will still issue a ruling on this case, and new cases under the legal parameters defined by the Supreme Court can be brought through the court system going forward.
Speaking at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in Minnesota last month,, Attorney General Eric Holder stressed the importance of fair elections: “When elections are rigged through partisan or racial gerrymandering, it intensifies polarization, contributes to gridlock, and deepens the cynicism Americans feel about our government.”
Without a definitive decision on the legality of partisan gerrymandering, it is critically important that we elect lawmakers who understand and value the importance of voting rights and democratic processes. Those who represent us must uphold these values and fight to make sure that all people are fairly represented and have a voice in our democracy.
Take our pledge to vote for champions that will stand for these values → resistpersistvote.org