Gerrymandering changes blocked by US Supreme Court

Just recently, the ACLU of Ohio won a big victory when a federal Appeals Court ruled that Ohio’s congressional districts were blatantly gerrymandered and should be redrawn by June this year for the 2020 elections. Courts in Michigan had ordered similar redrawing. Both rulings were appealed by Republicans and on Friday, there was a setback when the US Supreme Court blocked both those orders without any reasoning.

The decisions in Michigan and Ohio that were put on hold by the justices were the latest rulings by federal courts determining that electoral maps designed by a state’s majority party unconstitutionally undermined the rights of voters who tend to support the other party.

But the action by the justices was not unexpected as they weigh two other gerrymandering cases – one from North Carolina and the other from Maryland – that could decide definitively whether federal judges have the power to intervene to curb partisan gerrymandering. The rulings in those cases, due by the end of June, are likely to dictate whether the legal challenges against the Ohio and Michigan electoral maps can move forward.

So the fate of these two cases now rests on the outcome of the other two cases, unless the decision is made to consolidate all four cases.


  1. flex says

    Just as a note, in 2018 Michigan passed a constitutional amendment which will take the creation of districts out of the hands of politicians and give it to a citizen’s committee. This will happen after the 2020 census.

    While it is likely that this constitutional amendment will see a court challenge, it is unlikely to be thrown out by the courts as it was passed in a majority vote by the citizens of Michigan. So by 2030 at the latest Michigan will probably have new districts which better represent the population of the state. It’s even possible that this will happen by 2022, but I suspect there will be some legal challenges by republicans regardless of what map the independent commission draws up.

    Courts tend to follow the laws, and at the moment the laws do not allow challenges to the redistricting process based on political ideology. So the court-based challenges to redistricting are not assured to win. The US Supreme Court will need to decide that the citizens were disenfranchised by the redistricting process, which an objective view of the redistricting process as practiced would support. However, gerrymandering in the fashion used to disenfranchise voters is legal under the law. So it is quite possible that the judges will find that a judicial solution to inequality is not possible under the law.

    I’m not saying this is good or bad, but that I often agree with Mr. Bumble.

  2. flex says

    They will try, but the courts will support requiring them to fund a constitutionally mandated responsibility. That trick has tried before and the courts have always said that if the law mandates something to happen, the legislature has to fund it.

    If they defund the redistricting commission, there will be a lawsuit filed against the state immediately. It may drag the implementation out a few years, but unless they can rescind the amendment, there will eventually be an independent redistricting commission.

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