All eyes on the Supreme Court
Today, we wanted to let you know about some big things happening in the Supreme Court, what they mean for Swing Left’s work this election cycle, and their impact on our democracy.
Rulings on these major cases are expected soon, before the court closes its 2019 session. Here’s what we’re watching.
What’s going on: The Trump administration has tried to sneak a question of citizenship status into the 2020 census. Recently leaked documents from a GOP redistricting strategist revealed it was created specifically to exclude minority groups like Latinx from census participation — resulting in inaccurate population counts that affect Congressional apportionment (how House seats are distributed) and federal funding for critical social services. If this happens, Republicans will have another baked-in electoral advantage — and communities of color will be underrepresented in and underserved by our state and federal governments.
What to expect: The outlook is grim — Trump’s cronies are pushing the Supreme Court to ignore this damning new evidence and condone their racist addition to the census. With a conservative majority in the court, we fear a ruling in their favor.
What’s going on: There are three gerrymandering cases before the Supreme Court — two on partisan gerrymandering, and one on racial gerrymandering.
- Rucho v. Common Cause: After previously being caught gerrymandering along racial lines, North Carolina’s GOP is charged with rigging all 13 Congressional Congressional districts in North Carolina to discount Democratic votes.
- Benisek v. Lamone: Maryland Democrats are charged with rigging one Congressional district in the west of the state to discount Republican votes. (Yes, sometimes Democrats gerrymander, too, and partly why we need a fair elections system for everyone.)
- Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill: The Virginia GOP is charged with packing African-American voters into 11 out of 100 House districts to diminish their voting power in remaining districts.
What to expect: The Supreme Court has already struck down racially gerrymandered maps as unconstitutional, but it’s unclear how the court will respond to partisan gerrymandering.
Anything’s possible, but the best outcome would be that the court establishes a standard of unfair partisan gerrymandering that prevents extreme outliers, like North Carolina’s Congressional map. Essentially, extreme gerrymandering would stop, but anything up to that limit could continue
Alternatively, the court could defer a definitive ruling, as it has in the past, arguing that there is still no reliable standard to assess maps. Or it could argue, once and for all, that redistricting policy is “non-justiciable”: not up to the court to decide. Either scenario would likely allow maps in North Carolina, Maryland, and elsewhere to stand — and leave the door open for more Republican gerrymandering in 2021. The court’s ruling could come down as soon as next Monday.
The Bottom Line
These cases are proof of just how far anti-democratic legislators will go to win reelection. They don’t care about a fair democracy — they care about holding onto power.
We don’t know how the Supreme Court will rule, but we do know a reason why things have gotten to this point: the GOP scheming for decades to win state-level seats, resulting in too many state houses controlled by anti-democratic legislators. And we know what we can do to stop them: registering voters and raising money for critical down-ballot campaigns in the most gerrymandered places in the country.
This is why Swing Left is working to take back all the Houses — from the White House to the Senate to the state houses necessary to undo the worst Republican gerrymandering. And why we’re grateful to have you on our team.