Gerrymandering expert says Supreme Court ruling increases political pressure on state legislatures to act
June 18, 2018
Virginia Tech gerrymandering expert Nick Goedert says, “for the near future, it will be left up to states to adopt independent commissions on a state-by-state basis which will increase political pressure on state legislatures to act.”
Because the Wisconsin gerrymandering case decision was unanimous Goedert adds, “I would interpret this as the liberals joining the mostly conservative opinion in order to preserve some room for argument in a future case, like North Carolina.”
“The immediate winners are the Republicans in Wisconsin, as well as the Democrats in Maryland, as the Supreme Court also upheld a lower court’s decision against a Republican suit in that state in a simultaneous, much briefer ruling today. In the medium term, the losers are those reform advocates who were hoping that the Court would issue a sweeping opinion dramatically and immediately limited partisan gerrymandering following the next census.”
“The majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, basically said that a plaintiff can only bring these claims based on the boundaries of their own, single, district. The opinion goes so far as to say that the overall failure of one’s political party is not the sort of harm that should be recognized as a constitutional violation of the right to vote.”
“The opinion suggests that the sort of formula the plaintiffs hoped would solve this dilemma is not going to be acceptable even if a different case were brought with different plaintiffs or a different framing.”
Nick Goedert is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech. He has published several papers about gerrymandering and even testified at the lower court hearing in the Wisconsin case. View his bio page here.
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