Politics & Polls #73: What does the North Carolina gerrymandering decision mean?

January 11, 2018 by Sam Wang

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Today, Julian Zelizer and I discussed the North Carolina court decision. What does it mean for reform ahead? Listen to the new Politics & Polls.


Pechmerle says:

Abbott v. Perez, a redistricting case from Texas, just today got added to the Supreme Court’s formal resolution path for the term ending June 30. Back in September, Texas had asked the Supreme Court to stay the lower court order directing a fix of the redistricting carried out by the Texas legislature pending full S. Ct. review. This stay, as in Whitford, was granted. In the Abbott case, the stay order noted that Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer would have denied the stay, thus forcing Texas to proceed with remedial action in the legislature. (A request by the plaintiffs challenging the redistricting for expedited hearing, to catch up to Whitford, was also denied in September.)
What is new today is that the S. Ct. has put Abbott on the regular action track for this term, such that it is not held behind Whitford and Benisek. (Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog predicted yesterday that they would do this at their regular January conference held today.)
Here again, all options are now possible: decisions entered at the same time on all this term’s redistricting cases, establishing new more general principles on gerrymandering; separate and independent decisions in each case, announcing piecemeal rules for particular circumstances (the most likely outcome in my view); or a lead ruling in Whitford that is declared dispositive of the Benisek & Abbott cases (seems less likely because the issues in the various cases pose some distinctly different issues, probably needing nuanced resolutions).
The earlier discussion here at PEC, that “something” is going on behind the curtain, is surely now confirmed. So many cases and so much at stake — it can’t be coincidental that they are taking all this on now.
It is still noteworthy to me that they have so far (no word yet on the North Carolina case) stayed all the lower court orders directing immediate remedial fixes for the 2018 mid-term elections. I get the sense that they will say, expectations and processes were too far along to be disturbed for 2018, but here are the new principles that must be followed for 2020 and beyond.

LondonYoung says:

You slipped in an important point about the electoral college – it was, in fact, selected as a vehicle for southern states to wield federal power on behalf of slaves who could not vote.
As the nation debates statues of R.E. Lee, it may help to remember that slave owners never argued that slaves were only “property” like, say, goats or houses. They were admitted persons.

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