'Huge victory for the Republican Party': Legal experts weigh in on Supreme Court’s landmark gerrymandering decision

'Huge victory for the Republican Party': Legal experts weigh in on Supreme Court’s landmark gerrymandering decision
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Human Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on gerrymandering, deciding that federal courts cannot block lawmakers in individual states from partisan gerrymandering in political districts. And legal experts have been weighing in on the decision.

Elie Mystal, editor of Above the Law, has been highly critical of Chief Justice John Roberts in a series of tweets — complaining that the Supreme Court has, in effect, said that there is no legal remedy “if states gerrymander your vote completely away.”

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin sees the 5-4 decision as a major victory for the Republican Party. Thursday on CNN, Toobin asserted, “Two points. One: huge victory for the Republican Party here, because it’s the Republicans who control most of these states — who control Ohio, who control Florida, who will be redistricting following the 2020 census and now this is a green light to jam all the Democrats into a handful of districts and put the Republicans in Congress of all the rest of them.”

Toobin continued: “Second point, this is why, in very significant ways, the country is so divided along partisan lines.”

Neal Katyal noted that Justice Elena Kagan was among the dissenters in the ruling, quoting her as saying that “partisan gerrymanders” have “debased and dishonored our democracy.” Katyal asserted, “I don’t think I have ever seen a more powerful Kagan dissent.”

Mike Scarella noted Kagan’s dissent as well. And Sam Levine, who reports on voting rights and legal issues for HuffPost, noting that the Court “declined to strike down excessive partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina and Maryland, saying it was a question beyond the reach of the courts.”

On Twitter, @SCOTUSBlog described the decision’s implications, noting that the Court dismissed “challenges by Dem. voters to NC congressional map drawn by Rep. officials and by Rep. voters to 1 district drawn by Dems in Md.”

Vanita Gupta decried the decision as an assault on democracy, tweeting, “The practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than voters choosing their politicians will continue in the United States.” And attorney Walter Schaub, responding to Gupta, cynically posted, “Welp. At least we can serve as an example of what not to do for countries who have heard about this democracy thing and are considering giving it a try.”

Attorney Mike Sacks was also critical of Roberts, accusing the Court of “self-abnegation.”

SCOTUS reporter Robert Barnes summarized the decision as the Court’s “conservatives” essentially saying that gerrymandering isn’t an issue to be dealt with at the federal level. And former Attorney General Eric Holder described the decision as “troubling” yet stressed that opponents need to keeping their anti-gerrymandering battle going. Steve Vladek, a University of Texas law professor, noted that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was part of the majority and that his predecessor, Anthony Kennedy, “refused to provide a fifth vote for this very holding.”

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