Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Partisan Gerrymandering But Against Census Citizenship Question

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Any thoughts that the US Supreme Court would be acting in a non partisan manner, can be laid to rest. On the 27th of June 2019, the Court has now become the arm of the Trumpian Republican Party, as it ruled in a 5-4 decision to let stand the partisan gerrymandered maps of Maryland and North Carolina, and this would include other states which are challenging the legality of overly partisan gerrymandered drawn maps in the federal court system.

This means that in 2020, there’ll have to be a record turnout of those who’ll be voting for Democratic Party candidates, to overcome the added impediment of partisan GOP gerrymandered maps rigged to favor GOP candidates.

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In 2018, the Supreme Court had refused to decide on partisan gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin and Maryland and in 2019 it let the federal court rulings in Ohio and  Michigan  stand which stroke down partisan gerrymandering plans while ordering new maps to be drawn. But then the Supreme Court justices temporarily blocked those requirements in May (2019), pending their decisions in North Carolina and Maryland.

Thus, it looks like the states can gerrymander away, and those being marginalized cannot seek relief via the federal courts.

This was the latest blow to voting rights from a Supreme Court that has gutted the Voting Rights Act (in an opinion by Roberts) and upheld strict voter ID laws, voter purging, and partisan gerrymandering.

Justice Elana Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion and she was joined by the 3 other liberal justices.

See: Justices: Federal courts can’t police partisan gerrymandering
In-DepthPolitico

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But there was one exception. As per the 7/17/2019 Hill report, “Supreme Court hands Virginia Democrats a win in gerrymandering case” by Jaqueline Thomsen, “The Supreme Court has ruled against the Virginia House of Delegates in a racial gerrymandering case that represents a victory for Democrats in the state.”

“In the 5-4 ruling, the justices found that the House didn’t have the standing to appeal a lower court ruling that found that the new district maps must be used ahead of statewide elections later this year. Those new maps are already in use.”

“Democrats had claimed that previous districts were unlawful because they featured too many black voters, diminishing their power across the state and in other districts.”

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“Supreme Court hands Virginia Democrats a win in gerrymandering case”The Supreme Court has previously held that race can’t be the leading factor in the creation of state districts. The justices first took on the case in 2015, but sent it back down to a lower court for reconsideration.”

“But lawyers for the GOP-held House of Delegates claimed that by making sure that each legislative district had 55 percent black voters, the state was ensuring that their voting power wasn’t diminished.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence ThomasSonia SotomayorElena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.

Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

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However, there’s some surprising good news as the Supreme Court justices have ruled on 6/27/2019 against the GOP’s request to add the citizen question to the 2020 census questionnaires because the justices considered the government’s explanation for adding the controversial question appeared contrived and it was not adequate.

While the republican President Donald Trump’s administration could try to craft a better rationale to send back up for review to the US Supreme Court, there’s another case winding through the courts, where new evidence has been uncovered in May 2019 which provides credible proof that those who pushed to add the citizen question were not acting in good faith. This new evidence which should render any new excuse as moot, came in the form of documents on the computer backups of a deceased Republican strategist, Thomas B. Hofeller. These documents revealed new details about the genesis of the citizen question on the census questionnaire, casting additional doubt on the Trump administration’s explanation for asking 2020 census respondents whether they are citizens.

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Excerpts:

“The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature.”

“The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s other conservatives said federal courts may not intervene to block partisan gerrymandering.”

“We have no commission to allocate political power rand influence in the absence of a constitutional directive or legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority,” Roberts said.”

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Associate Justice Elena Kagan decried the ruling on behalf of the court’s four liberals. “Of all the times to abandon the court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one,” she said. “The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.”

The ruling addresses the way election districts are redrawn once every decade in most states – a system dominated by political self-interest that has grown more intense every time the Supreme Court declined to tame it.

Challengers were betting that this year, with these maps, the court might see things differently. In relatively “purple” North Carolina, where President Barack Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, Republicans drew themselves a 10-3 advantage in Congress. In more liberal Maryland, Democrats gave their party a disproportionate, 7-1 majority.

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“The court had declined to intervene in similar cases five times before, most recently last year, when the justices refused to decide partisan gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin and Maryland.”

“The Supreme Court’s action followed federal court rulings this year in Ohio and  Michigan  striking down partisan gerrymanders and ordering new maps to be drawn. The justices temporarily blocked those requirements in May, pending their decisions in NC and MD.”

“The justices last year let stand the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision striking down that state’s congressional map and replacing it with one that helped Democrats win more seats. That was because the case was decided under the state constitution, rather than in federal court.”

“For the past decade, Democrats have been the bigger losers in gerrymandering fights. Republicans seized power in many states in the 2010 midterm elections, giving them control over the redistricting process. Democrats are at a disadvantage entering the 2020 elections.”

More: Conservative gains at Supreme Court leading to anger, frustration and ‘peeks behind the curtain’

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JUSTICES

As per 6/27/2019 Raw Story report,  Justice Elena Kagan issued a fiery dissent calling gerrymandering outright “election rigging.”

“’Governments,’ the Declaration of Independence states, ‘deriv[e] their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.’ The Constitution begins: ‘We the People of the United States.’ The Gettysburg Address (almost) ends: ‘[G]overnment of the people, by the people, for the people.’ If there is a single idea that made our Nation (and that our Nation commended to the world), it is this one: The people are sovereign. The ‘power,’ James Madison wrote, ‘is in the people over the Government, and not in the Government over the people.’ Free and fair and periodic elections are the key to that vision,” Kagan wrote. “The people get to choose their representatives. And then they get to decide, at regular intervals, whether to keep them.”

Read the full dissent here.

Read the opinion here.

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On June 27, 2019, Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chang of Reuters penned the following report, “US Supreme Court blocks Trump’s census citizen question, for now”

Excerpts:

“The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Trump a significant defeat on 6/27/2019, ruling that his administration did not give an adequate explanation for its plan to include a contentious citizenship question on the 2020 census and preventing its addition to the decennial survey for now.”

“The justices – in a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s four liberals in the majority – upheld part of a federal judge’s ruling barring the question in a victory for a group of states including New York and immigrant rights organizations that had challenged the plan.”

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“Opponents of the question have called it a Republican ploy to scare immigrants into not taking part in the population count.

The court ruled against the challengers on other claims, with the nine justices splitting in different ways.”

“Roberts, writing for the court’s majority, said that under a U.S. law called the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal government is required to give a reasoned explanation for its actions.”

“Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise,” Roberts wrote.

“Roberts said that the explanation provided by the government was “more of a distraction.”

“The ruling did not address litigation that is ongoing in lower courts over additional evidence challengers say show an illegal motive for adding the question.”

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“The Republican president’s administration had appealed to the Supreme Court after lower courts blocked the inclusion of the census question.”

“Opponents have said the question would instill fear in immigrant households that the information would be shared with law enforcement.”

Link to entire article:

US Supreme Court blocks Trump’s census citizenship question, for now

3 comments

  1. Gronda, while I am pleased with the census result, it may just be temporary. The gerrymandering decision rivals Citizens-United and McCutcheon decisions as the greatest disservice to American voters. Kagen is dead on accurate in her dissent.

    Gerrymandering is orchestrated cheating, no matter who does it. Call me crazy, but I expect my Supreme Court to punish cheating. I realize that is naïve, but it is a dream I have. Living in NC, the two proponents behind the gerrymandering were also behind our unconstitutional Voter ID law, which was “a laser-like focus on discrimination.” Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      The problem with NC gerrymandering map of voting districts is that if 50% of N Carolinian voters selected a Democratic candidate and 50% a Republican Party contender, the result would be 7 GOP elected officials to 3 Democrats. This forces the Democratic Party led states to do likewise, as they can’t allow for trying to be fair when the other side isn’t.

      This is another fubar by the US Supreme Court and it is disappointing. It’s another pillar of our US Democracy that has been compromised.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

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