BREAKING: On June 27, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal judiciary cannot rein in partisan gerrymandering.
The US Supreme Court had the opportunity to end partisan gerrymandering once and for all but instead a narrow majority chose to wash their hands of any responsibility for stopping rigged elections.
Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority: “We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. 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.”
Justice Elena Kagan's dissent: "The partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people."
Ohio is a step ahead
While the decision is both angering and incredibly sad, we here in Ohio are feeling grateful that we have already passed restrictions on gerrymandering for both the state legislature and US Congress. Because of the hard work of Fair Districts volunteers and advocates, we passed anti-gerrymandering legislation in 2015 and 2018. When district lines are redrawn in 2021, the divided communities and grotesque distortions of the current map will not be allowed.
Unfortunately, because of the SCOTUS decision announced today, Ohio will have to wait until 2022 for fairer district lines. Ohio voters reined in gerrymandering and new rules will be in place for both the state legislature and Congress. Unfortunately, a ruling from the Supreme Court that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional would have strengthened our reforms and meant new maps in 2020 because of the challenge to Ohio's congressional gerrymander (APRI Ohio v. Householder).
Nevertheless, we still need to keep up the pressure on our legislators to let them know we are watching, and we demand Fair Maps!
READ THE DECISION
Thanks to everyone for joining our Tuesday evening webinar about the A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Householder gerrymandering lawsuit. If you weren't able to be on the call, here's a link to a recording. You can also look at the presentation slides HERE.
Breaking news! On June 5, the US Supreme Court granted the State of Ohio's request for a delay of the appeal process until July 19, 2019 (a three week extension). Although the plaintiffs would have preferred no extension, and fought against one, there is still time for making a map for the 2020 election.
You can stay up to date about all the latest twists and turns in the court case (and also see a full timeline) on the Fair Districts website.
An important decision is coming soon: We expect to hear about the NC gerrymandering (Rucho v. Common Cause) and the MD gerrymandering (Lamone v. Benisek) sometime this month. The highest court in the land has the opportunity to declare gerrymandering unconstitutional and lay down some ground rules. However, it is extremely difficult to know which way they will go and how that will affect Ohio’s case.
Here are some rough examples to illustrate the difficulty of making a solid prediction:
1. The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) could find the maps are illegally gerrymandered but decides there is no judicial remedy;
2. SCOTUS could determines that gerrymandering isn't unconstitutional in general;
3. SCOTUS could find one of the maps unconstitutional and rule in such a narrow way that the decision doesn't impact other states;
4. SCOTUS could find both maps unconstitutional and rule in such a narrow way that the decision doesn't impact other states;
5. SCOTUS could find some districts unconstitutional and the ruling is truly narrow;
6. SCOTUS could punt, and rule on some other ground that leaves vital questions still unanswered, as it did last June in the Wisconsin case, or
7. We could win big! SCOTUS could rule gerrymandering is unconstitutional and establish standards to identify gerrymandering. It's hard to be patient while we wait to hear the next steps for the Ohio gerrymandering case, but we will do everything we can to keep you up-to-date.
Take the Pledge: During the presentation we encouraged participants to get involved by signing the End Gerrymandering pledge and urging their Ohio legislators to do the same. We hope everyone will take the pledge and continue to spread the word about the need to support #FairMaps. Here are the links you'll need:
Support the Census: Stay up to date on the Census via the Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition: