I wrote down my predictions for some of the court’s upcoming decisions a few days ago. I was, unfortunately, correct on gerrymandering. The issue of whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is not finally resolved – just suspended for the time being.
The Court fooled me just a little on gerrymandering. I thought their reasoning would be that coming up with a test is too complicated. They didn’t. They said, in effect, that a the party in the majority during a census has the right to discriminate against minority parties to any extent they want for the next ten years. While stating that partisan gerrymandering is reprehensible and unjust, they said it is not their job to fix it. It is political, not judicial. Huh?
How is it not the job of the Supreme Court to ensure that basic constitutional rights such as the right to representation are not in their scope? How is one person – one vote no longer important?
How is the right of an individual state to discriminate against a party so that they are intentionally underrepresented in the House of Representatives of the United States not a Supreme Court interest? The effects of those gerrymanders go well beyond the borders of the offending state.
The court is supposed to interpret and enforce the constitution. The framers foresaw a representative democracy established as a republic with many interests competing. The competition of interests is an important feature. It is the means of managing power and preventing overwhelming power from accruing to any one group. SCOTUS just said that cheating in the state vote to achieve more power than proper representation should allow is not something they can deal with. This blatant distortion of representation is “political” and not “judicial”.
They also said that racial gerrymandering is not acceptable because the constitution outlaws racial discrimination. Then, in the next breath, they say that political gerrymandering is ok. But political gerrymandering has much the same effect as racial gerrymandering. The case being adjudicated works mostly against Democratic minority voters because they have a higher proportion of black and Latino voters. It still has a racial effect then, doesn’t it?
The impact of course is not limited to the people’s selection of their own representatives. The major effect is on the House of Representatives. That’s why so much money from outside the state flows in to contested House races. The same people draw districting maps for state elections and can therefore control which voters have a say in future elections within the state. Because they concentrate voters of each party in specific districts, they also create districts in which partisans have more power and can continue to select less moderate people for their primaries. Now Senators are involved as well as Representatives. You see how that evolves into our current extreme and partisan Congress.
I am very disappointed in the court. They were the closest thing to a functioning branch of government we had.