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Supreme Court Bars Challenges to Partisan Gerrymandering

What is gerrymandering and why is it problematic?

US Supreme Court
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Supreme Court Bars Challenges to Partisan Gerrymandering, What is gerrymandering and why is it problematic? It’s a complicated topic. Assistants run outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the court rejected efforts to rein in partisan gerrymandering. In a 5-4 decision along ideological lines, the court ruled Thursday that partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts cannot be limited by federal courts. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion, writing that “what the appellees and dissent seek is an unprecedented expansion of judicial power.”

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Roberts wrote in Thursday’s decision. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

In most states, the drawing of congressional and legislative districts is handled by state legislatures. That creates a strong incentive for partisan lawmakers to draw districts in a way that benefits their own party. Partisan gerrymandering is almost as old as the nation, and both parties have used it. "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," Roberts added.

“The partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people,” she wrote. “These gerrymanders enabled politicians to entrench themselves in offices against the voters' preferences.” In ruling that partisan gerrymandering is not an issue for the courts, the court avoided all that. A majority of Americans may take issue with extreme partisan gerrymandering, but now it’s up to somebody else to do something about it.

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