By State Representative, Leon D. Young
After months of speculating, the U.S. Supreme Court finally got around to rendering its decision in Wisconsin’s patently-partisan gerrymandering case. And for all intents and purposes, the high court basically opted to punt.
Rather than addressing the pertinent legislatively question: Can a redistricting plan be so partisan that it violates the Constitution? The court’s majority chose to dodge the substantive legal issue by seeking judicial cover on procedural grounds: Ruling that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing and unanimously sent the case back to federal district court.
In the aftermath of this high-profile Supreme Court case, Gill v. Whitford, it’s important to note that this wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk for Republicans. Here are some of the takeaways to consider:
• First and foremost, the Supreme Court did not dismiss the case, nor did it find the maps to be constitutional. Rather, they ruled that plaintiffs were not able to demonstrate individualized harm.
• The court remanded the case back to the District court to allow plaintiffs the opportunity to demonstrate harm.
• This case is still very much alive.
• The decision to delay a final ruling means it is even more important that lawmakers act now to adopt a non-partisan redistricting reform plan.
• Democrats will continue to champion nonpartisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process.
With that being said, the Supreme Court is about to undergo a seismic shift. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has announced that he plans to retire this summer.
This undoubtedly will set in motion a furious fight over the future of the Supreme Court and gives Donald Trump the chance to put a conservative stamp on the American legal system for generations.