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The intentional shifting of electoral boundaries by the party in power in order to entrench their long-term control is an intuitive violation of democratic standards. But when we ask the specific questions of what right has been violated and who holds that right it becomes much less clear. The Court has struggled with identifying a clear right under the Constitution and hence whether gerrymandering is a question the Court can address rather than something it must leave to the elected branches of government. Moreover, if the Constitution has been violated, what standard should be applied to identify a gerrymander that crosses the line? Rucho addresses these crucial questions in an era of increasingly effective partisan gerrymandering.
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See the iconic cartoon of this 1812 district (sometimes attributed to Gilbert Stuart, though most likely penned by Elkanah Tisdale, with Richard Alsop supplying the term) at www.smithsonianmag.com/history/where-did-term-gerrymander-come.
Cooper v. Harris, 581 U.S. ___ (2017).
Ralph Hise and David Lewis, “We Drew Congressional Maps for Partisan Advantage. That Was the Point,” Atlantic, 25 March 2019; Adam Liptak, “Partisan Gerrymander Returns to a Transformed Supreme Court,” The New York Times, 18 March 2019.
The Ninth District seat remained unfilled pending a special election slated for 10 September 2019.
Rucho decision, page 6.
USC 28 § 2284 (1940).
In Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849), the Court held that determining which of two Rhode Island governments met the republican form of government promise under Article IV §4 was a political question, to be resolved by the other branches.
Richard J. Fallon, Jr., “Judicially Manageable Standards and Constitutional Meaning,” 119 Harvard Law Review 1275–1332 (March 2006). See also Morgan Marietta, “Roberts Rules,” The Conversation online, 8 July 2016.
Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 269–270 (1962), Justice Frankfurter dissent, quoting from his majority opinion in Colegrove v. Green, 328 U.S. 549, 556 (1946).
See Gwynne Skinner, “Misunderstood, Misconstrued, and Now Clearly Dead: The ‘Political Question Doctrine’ as a Justiciability Doctrine,” 29 Journal of Law and Politics 427–599 (Spring 2014).
Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109, 111, 127, 130 (1986).
See Chapter 3 of SCOTUS 2018, “ Gill v. Whitford on Partisan Gerrymandering,” by Alex Keena, Michael Latner, Anthony McGann, and Charles Smith.
Gill v. Whitford 585 U.S. ___ (2018). See Robin I. Mordfin, “Proving Partisan Gerrymandering with the Efficiency Gap,” University of Chicago Law School, 25 September 2017.
Gill v. Whitford oral argument transcript, page 40.
Rucho oral argument transcript, page 68.
Ibid., pages 11–12.
Motion to Affirm by the Common Cause Appellees, page 31.
Rucho oral argument transcript, page 48.
Guy-Uriel E. Charles and Luis E. Fuentes-Rohwer, “Symposium: Precedent Dictates a Win for the Plaintiffs in this Term’s Partisan-Gerrymandering Cases,” SCOTUSblog, 7 February 2019.
Rucho decision, page 25.
Anderson v. Celebrezze 460 U.S. 780 (1983).
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board 553 U.S. 181 (2008); Daniel Tojaki, “Symposium: How to Win the Partisan-Gerrymandering Cases,” SCOTUSblog, 6 February 2019.
Rucho oral argument transcript, page 3.
Rucho decision, pages 10, 30.
Ibid., pages 11, 23, 26.
Rucho oral argument transcript, pages 28–29.
Rucho Kagan dissent, page 15.
Ibid., pages 9, 8, and 29, quoting her concurrence in Gill.
Ibid., page 33.
Rucho oral argument transcript, pages 16, 17 and 70. The Senate, as of this writing, has no intention of voting on the bill.
The dissent by Chief Justice Roberts, in which Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas joined, held that Article I §4 clearly assigned redistricting to state legislatures, yet this remedy was one mentioned by the Rucho majority.
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map as an unlawful political gerrymander.
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