High court opts to stay out of partisan gerrymandering cases

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the federal courts have no role in policing how political boundaries are drawn.

In a historic 5-4 vote, the justices opted to not weigh in on partisan gerrymandering cases involving the states of Maryland and North Carolina. In those cases, Democrats and Republicans were each accused of drawing voting maps that benefited the party already in power.

Marilyn Carpinteyro of Common Cause said she believes the court ducked their opportunity to end partisan gerrymandering.

“We actually wanted the court to create a standard – a standard across the country – on how maps are drawn,” she said.

The justices instead declared they will not step in when lawmakers use politics to draw district lines.

“I’m extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court decisions,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland.

Cardin said he wanted the high court to weigh in because of the impact gerrymandering can have on voters.

“The way congressional districts are drawn affects the rights of every person in this country, and we need the protection of our courts in enforcing those rights,” he said.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said it’s not a violation of the Constitution to engage in politics when you’re drawing lines.

“I think it was the correct ruling under the Constitution,” he said. “They didn’t condone it. They said, ‘look, the remedy for this lies in state legislatures or in Congress.’”

Carpinteyro now agrees the fight over fair districts now moves back to lawmakers and the voters.

“People have the power,” she said. “We have the ability to go back at the local level, the county level, and state legislature to ensure that we have fair maps.”

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