Is SCOTUS About to Finally Give Voters a Win on Gerrymandering?

Author: FairVote
Created: 11 January, 2019
Updated: 14 August, 2022
2 min read

All rise. The fearsome gerrymander is back before the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the days since SCOTUS announced its decision to review partisan district-drawing cases in both Maryland and North Carolina, the already hot topic of gerrymandering grew even more fiery, with both sides anxious to see what the nation’s highest court does - or doesn’t do -  to intervene.

Last year, the court punted on a prior version of the same Maryland case it will revisit this term; it similarly declined to weigh on a separate partisan gerrymandering case in Wisconsin. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh now seated in place of former Justice Anthony Kennedy, a  swing vote in key decisions who indicated interest in reining in partisan gerrymanders, some legal experts are even more skeptical the court will act.

But the stakes are even higher now, as the post-2020 Census redistricting looms large on the horizon. As Paul Smith, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, “If the Supreme Court fails to set limits on this undemocratic practice, we will see a festival of copycat gerrymandering in 2020 the likes of which the country has never seen before.”

The prospect of more extreme gerrymandering than what happened in the post-2010 redistricting, which FairVote Senior Fellow Dave Daley dubbed “the most audacious political heist of modern times” in his 2016 book on the topic, presents an ominous future for voters and democracy.

We certainly stand behind those who have used the courts to fight for fair maps, and hope the Supremes will dub this important issue worthy of their judgement. That said, a SCOTUS ruling is not a panacea, but a part of what needs to be a larger discussion of how to use system reforms like ranked choice voting and multi-member districts to create a government which represents and empowers voters.

Photo Credit: This quick take originally published on FairVote's website and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

Latest articles

Glenn Youngkin
The Irony of Gov. Glenn Youngkin Vetoing a Ranked Choice Voting Bill
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has said no to a bill that would clarify how ranked choice voting (RCV) is supposed to work in local elections -- which is odd considering the only reason Youngkin is governor is because of a RCV nomination process at the 2021 Virginia GOP convention. ...
12 April, 2024
3 min read
Trump and Biden Debate
If Trump or Biden Don't Want to Debate, Give The Stage to Someone Else
Major national news outlets reportedly are drafting an open letter to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump's campaigns urging them to debate this fall. Biden has threatened not to debate at all, and Trump doesn't have a solid track record committing to debates....
10 April, 2024
3 min read
Electoral College
The Electoral College Reform the Nation Needs is Not What Either Party Wants
Nebraska is one of only two states that has a system that awards its Electoral College votes based on the popular vote in each of its congressional districts. However, there is a contingent of state lawmakers who want to change this with the support of former President Donald Trump....
08 April, 2024
11 min read