“The Supreme Court has squandered an opportunity to hold that partisan gerrymandering unfairly rigs elections and amounts to an unconstitutional violation of voting rights. Ruling in two cases out of Wisconsin and Maryland, the Court declined to address the merits of the issues and instead decided both cases on procedural grounds. In Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin case challenging the validity of that state’s legislative districts where the GOP won 60 of 99 Assembly seats despite losing the statewide vote by 7 points, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the voters who filed the suit did not have the legal right to sue. He said while they could have challenged their own voting districts, they did not have “standing” to challenge the statewide map because they did not have a plaintiff from each district. In the Maryland case, Benisek v. Lamone, the Court upheld a district court decision declining to grant an injunction against a gerrymandered congressional district due to, among other reasons, the plaintiffs’ “unnecessary, [five] years long delay” in asking for relief. While both cases were remanded back to the district courts for further proceedings, it is highly unlikely either case could be finally decided before the next decennial redistricting in 2021. These cases confirm that we cannot rely on the courts to order redistricting reform. Instead, it is now more important than ever for citizens to step up and demand that their elected officials take action to wipe out partisan gerrymandering.
In Virginia, this means enacting a constitutional amendment that will take redistricting away from the legislature and put it in the hands of an independent commission to draw legislative and Congressional districts using clear and well-defined criteria. This now is our top priority, and the upcoming 2019 legislative session will be our last chance, and our best opportunity, to initiate a constitutional amendment before the next round of redistricting in 2021. Given the recent Court decisions, legislators have no more excuses for refusing to act. They can no longer say that we have to wait for the court’s decision. The courts have decided. It is time now for the citizens to take action, and OneVirginia2021 needs your help.”
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Read more about the court decisions:
The SCOTUS opinion – https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1161_dc8f.pdf
SCOTUS Blog coverage – http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/gill-v-whitford/?wpmp_switcher=desktop
Editorial from The Washington Post (June 21, 2018) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-supreme-court-cant-dodge-responsibility-on-gerrymandering-forever/2018/06/20/c56eba2e-73f8-11e8-805c-4b67019fcfe4_story.html?utm_term=.cdfa7601289d
Coverage of the decision in The New York Times (June 18, 2018) – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/politics/supreme-court-wisconsin-maryland-gerrymander-vote.html