There are some things that are just plain wrong — robbery, burglary, bribery and partisan gerrymandering, defined as the practice of setting boundaries of electoral districts to favor specific political interests within legislative bodies, often resulting in districts with convoluted, winding boundaries rather than compact areas.
It’s disheartening and surprising that the United States Supreme Court justices don’t always know what’s right and what’s wrong.
In a dual case that was brought by Democrats challenging Republican-drawn maps in North Carolina and by Republicans challenging a Democratic map in Maryland, the conservative majority prevailed 5-4.
Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority wrote that federal courts must stay out of disputes over when politicians go too far in drawing district lines for partisan gain. The decision is said to provide a dramatic and sweeping ruling that could fundamentally affect the balance of power in state legislatures and Congress.
“Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the five-vote decision. “But the fact that such gerrymandering is ‘incompatible with democratic principles’ … does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary. 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 read a scathing dissent from the bench for the four liberals.
“Gerrymandering is, as so many Justices have emphasized before, anti-democratic in the most profound sense,” she said. “Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent.”
The Antelope Valley Press editorial board concurs with Kagan’s reasoning.
The chief justice said he believes this ruling does not mean there cannot be limits on partisan gerrymandering. He didn’t define what “too far” means.
As technology in this innovative computer era has become more sophisticated, a program should be developed to let the machine draw up the districts on a non-partisan map.
It’s imperative that the Supreme Court accept a case in the coming year that would provide fair divisions in all the states, which draw up the maps for local contestants and for candidates running for Congress, too.
The new order should also outlaw discriminatory voter registration rules that benefit just one of the parties.