Recently, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a case, which could drastically change election results. The case is about partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is when one redraws the districts of a state in order to positively help their election results. Likewise, during the oral arguments Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “status and integrity, could be jeopardized if a majority of the justices declare that there is a constitutional limit to partisan gerrymandering.”
Yet the liberal side of the bench felt differently in that they stated that if the court failed to act on this case then the court would be negatively affecting American democracy. However, the court seems to be currently split with a 4-4 tally. In addition, one justice is undecided as of now and that Justice is Anthony Kennedy. Justice Anthony Kennedy, however kept the issue’s back door open in 2004, when he stated that if one could create “manageable standards” for identifying which types of gerrymandering as unconstitutional, but if no one could then gerrymandering was not yet unconstitutional.
The current case in front of the court originates from the state of Wisconsin. In summary in 2011 the Wisconsin legislature was heavily Republicans. The reason for this result was that the Republicans used the ability to redraw the districts to their ability. However, throughout the oral arguments people were observing the wild card that being Anthony Kennedy for a hint as to how
he would vote. Still, Kennedy gave away no hint as to how he would ultimately vote on the case. The only clear thing was that Kennedy did not derail the case on procedural grounds thus many conservatives seem to be interested in, especially his colleagues.
Furthermore, Justice Samuel Alito did voice his feelings on the matter yet he disparaged from the idea of trying to find practicable ideals to formally test whether or not the issue was indeed unconstitutional. Yet, the newest of the Justices that being Justice Neil Gorsuch mocked all the possible standards put forth by his colleagues by stating that the processes were all like his home-made steak rub.
Moreover, the justices on the left however were mainly focused on the enquiry that Kennedy raised in the 2004 gerrymandering case, which was figuring out possible and at the same time manageable and fair standards to ultimately determine whether or not this case demonstrated extreme partisan gerrymandering.
Justice Stephen Bryer however formulated a process that could be used to determine if the gerrymandering was in fact unconstitutional, which was “judges should ask whether the plan is an outlier in terms of the way it treats one party as opposed to the other and whether there was a neutral motive for the way the district lines were drawn — for instance, to create districts of equal population, or to prevent breaking up counties or municipalities.”
Later in the oral arguments when the state’s lawyer took the stand, Justice Roberts took concern to what the lawyer was ultimately asking, which was to have the court provide the state a free pass to continue the practice, which Roberts then raised the concern that this would ultimately make the courts be the deciding factor as to which candidate is chosen, which would ultimately lead to the possibility of citizens stating that the court favored one party over the other, which would easily “cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country.”
Consequently, this case could ultimately become one of the few cases that are of historical significance in the future, but with that comment made by Justice Roberts one could say that Roberts maybe leaning to the side that states that gerrymandering is in fact unconstitutional but only time will tell as decisions tend aren’t made in a hasty manner.