NC Gerrymandering Update: U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case

The U.S. Supreme Court just agreed to hear the partisan redistricting case concerning our state’s congressional districts.

Background: This is essentially the same case the Court punted on last year, in one of Justice Kennedy’s final rulings before leaving the bench. In its ruling, the Court basically asked the lower court to take another look in light of certain jurisdictional arguments and the lower court came back and said, in effect, “Yes, we stand by our original ruling and what happened in North Carolina should absolutely be considered unconstitutional.”

So now it’s back at the Supreme Court — along with a similar case from Maryland, only in that one it’s the Democrats who are using partisan gerrymandering.

The conventional wisdom is that the odds of a good ruling are low, the thinking being that Justice Kavanaugh won’t be too sympathetic (although he has never written on this matter).

However, this may not fully account for just how egregious gerrymandering in North Carolina is. After all, those who drew the districts admitted *while drawing them* that they were doing so to create as dramatic a political advantage for their own party as technically possible. So maybe that gets someone’s attention…

And of course, maybe we’ll all be delightfully shocked by Chief Justice Roberts (who has expressed at least some willingness to entertain the argument that partisan gerrymandering violates the constitution), but it would require him siding with the more liberal justices and being the swing vote in the most significant case of the decade. He’s done it once before, so there’s some hope.

No matter the outcome of this particular case, we still have state-level litigation pending that may provide relief, in addition to state-level legislation that could, for a variety of reasons, actually have a chance of passing this year.

I’ll keep you posted.

-Sen. Jeff Jackson