I am pleased that the current maps remain intact for 2018, allowing voters to have certainty going into the fall elections. Lower courts - and the Supreme Court itself in a future case - still have the opportunity to vindicate the Constitution's promise of democracy.
"North Carolina remains the most crystal clear example of why a rule creating limits on partisan gerrymandering is so necessary", said Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is representing the plaintiffs in that state's case.
"The Court is right to say they were not met here".
TOTENBERG: Most election experts, however, said that a different case testing a North Carolina partisan gerrymander is more likely to get to the Supreme Court next term. Both of the cases before the court - Gill v. Whitford out of Wisconsin, and Benisek v. Last month three out of four OH voters supported a referendum replacing overt gerrymandering with compact districts, and even the newer maps out of North Carolina work toward more compact districts. Gill holds that, when individual voters bring such a claim, "the remedy that is proper and sufficient lies in the revision of the boundaries of the individual's own district".
In a concurring opinion, Justice Elena Kagan set out a detailed road map for how such claims could be framed and presented. The plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case seemed to think so, calling the Supreme Court "the only institution in the United States" that could solve the problem. Now, at least, partisan gerrymandering challenges can live on for another day.
The Democratic Party doesn't need to gerrymander districts to control Congress; they just need a level playing field to compete, with fairly constructed districts. "The technology will only get better, so the 2020 cycle will only get worse". Until and unless the Supreme Court finally takes decisive action to curb partisan gerrymandering, as University of Oklahoma's Keith Gaddie puts it. Federal judges in North Carolina tossed the legislature's lines due to racial gerrymandering.
President of the League of Women Voters of the United States Chris Carson echoed Ho's comments in a statement he gave to The Washington Post, saying the court decisions were just "another delay" in ensuring voters retain their power in USA democracy. Bottom line - the Supreme Court decided very little.
And states, including Wisconsin, can still right this wrong. In a brief unsigned opinion, the court said the challengers had waited too long to seek an injunction blocking the district, which was drawn in 2011. There were two cases on the court's agenda, one brought by Democrats and the other, by Republicans.
The justices had a range of options before them, including a broad, statewide look at the issue in Wisconsin, where Republicans have a huge edge in the legislature in a state that is otherwise closely divided between the parties. "Computer programs using vast data banks describing sociological, ethnic, economic, religious and political characteristics of the electorate determine districts - often of incredibly weird contours - that favor the party that drew the maps".
But Roberts said such statewide evaluations were not the way to go.
But both cases will continue in lower courts as more challenges from states including OH and North Carolina make their way through the courts, all but ensuring the nation's highest court will get another crack to lay down a standard to determine when political gerrymandering runs afoul of the Constitution.
So the voters who sued will be able to try to prove they have standing.
Steve Gottlieb's latest book is Unfit for Democracy: The Roberts Court and The Breakdown of American Politics. No matter how much the country as a whole moves toward them - and away from Trump - between now and 2021, the party simply can not afford to be shut out of the redistricting process in as many states as it was eight years ago. Time serves the Republicans in several ways: the most likely and immanent resignation is from Justice Kennedy who is the weak link in the conservative justices' opposition to doing anything about gerrymandering; the oldest member of the Court is Justice Ginsburg and she is reliable in demanding equal protection in voting arrangements; replacing either of those justices while Trump is president would give Republicans a solid 5-vote majority in all elections cases and just about everything else.
Former governor Martin O'Malley, D, was frank about the effort in a deposition in the case, saying partisan advantage was "clearly my intent".
Instead, they moved hundreds of thousands of voters out of the district, and approximately the same number back in, but in a way that gave Democrats an advantage.