07-20-2018 11:40:18 AM -0700
07-19-2018 01:47:29 PM -0700
07-19-2018 10:16:35 AM -0700
07-19-2018 07:10:51 AM -0700
07-18-2018 06:46:32 AM -0700
It looks like you've previously blocked notifications. If you'd like to receive them, please update your browser permissions.
Desktop Notifications are  | 
Get instant alerts on your desktop.
Turn on desktop notifications?
Remind me later.


Stretch, grab a late afternoon cup of caffeine and get caught up on the most important news of the day with our Coffee Break newsletter. These are the stories that will fill you in on the world that's spinning outside of your office window - at the moment that you get a chance to take a breath.
Sign up now to save time and stay informed!

Supreme Court Strikes Down Challenges to Gerrymandering in Maryland and Wisconsin

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed two challenges to gerrymandering in Maryland and Wisconsin. The court did not make a conclusive ruling about the constitutionality of gerrymandering, but it did strike down partisan complaints that state legislatures had violated basic constitutional rights by redrawing congressional districts to favor the party in power.

In Gill v. Whitford, Democrats in Wisconsin challenged a new congressional map drawn by Republicans in the state legislature. In Benisek v. Lamone, Republicans in Maryland challenged a congressional map drawn by Democrats in the state legislature. In Gill, the court effectively unanimously struck down the challenge, while in Benisek, it upheld the ruling of the district court in denying a preliminary injunction to block the new redistricting.

The court ruled that the individuals in the Wisconsin case did not have standing to challenge the redistricting on the grounds of individual rights. "It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, in which Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan joined.

"This Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences," Roberts declared. "The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it. We therefore remand the case to the District Court so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence — unlike the bulk of the evidence presented thus far — that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes."

Roberts refused to issue a final ruling on the "merits of the plaintiff's case," instead reassigning the case to the district court in Wisconsin that originally heard it. "We express no view on the merits of the plaintiffs’ case. We caution, however, that 'standing is not dispensed in gross': A plaintiff ’s remedy must be tailored to redress the plaintiff ’s particular injury," he wrote.

In Benisek, the court ruled that a preliminary injunction against the new Maryland redistricting rules would have violated the public interest, and so it upheld the relevant district court's decision to deny the requested injunction.

"The court reasonably could have concluded that a preliminary injunction would have been against the public interest, as an injunction might have worked a needlessly 'chaotic and disruptive effect upon the electoral process,'" the court wrote.

"While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen not to decide on the merits of extreme partisan gerrymandering for now, it is not the end of the war for fair districts. It is a call to action," former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted.