Supreme Court kicks gerrymander can down the road – with We the People inside
In March we closely watched the U.S. Supreme Court arguments in the Common Cause/League of Women Voters v. Rucho case. On June 27, the Court announced their decision. If you care about democracy, value your vote, believe the U.S. is a land of, for, and by the people, the justices let us down! Hard! See Steve Sack’s cartoon below.
The question in the Rucho case (as well as Maryland case Lamone v. Benisek) was whether partisan gerrymandering – rigging elections to benefit a political party – is legal. The 5-4 decision … along partisan lines … did just that!!! They ruled against us –We the People!
How about that! The highest – and perhaps once most respected – of all courts ruled against democracy wherein we elect our representatives … in lieu of political parties picking their voters!
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, said it well, “This ruling is a bitter disappointment. And make no mistake about it, there are victims of this decision … those North Carolinians who do not have a voice in Washington because the Supreme Court has condoned an abusive partisan gerrymander. Legislators freely and publically admitted that their goal was to carve out and hold a 10-3 advantage in U.S. House seats for their own party despite the fact that votes cast in those races would split nearly down the middle.”
And hear dissenting Justice Elena Kagan. “Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections.”
Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, called the Court decision “cowardly and partisan,” and went on to say “five justices have given the high court’s approval to blatant, extreme, and explicit partisan gerrymandering, which grants politicians unfettered permission to rig districts to their liking.”
That said, let’s look in on our stalwart heroine, Maeve, to see how she’s dealing with that scoundrel, Gerry Mander:
Maeve has the conscience and courage to act, but she can’t do this alone. The missing ingredient is us. We the People.
Now let’s look at several brighter spots. On July 15, a three-judge panel will begin hearing Common Cause v. Lewis, yet another partisan gerrymandering case. Big difference this time around though. The case will be argued under the North Carolina Constitution and may ultimately go to the NC Supreme Court. Common Cause is optimistic for an outcome that rules against partisan gerrymandering.
But before you get too comfortable relying on the justice system, listen to North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, “Lawmakers, not the judiciary, are the only ones that can comprehensively reform our redistricting process. With this decision, the need for legislative action has never been more urgent.”
And candidly, that should be our focus. There are presently six redistricting bills in the North Carolina General Assembly … all have been “rat-holed” away in committees. The leaders of the majority in both the Senate and House have no intention of allowing debate …
Let them know you are passionate about flushing GerryMander in favor of Fair Redistricting, that you want all 6 bills debated, and that you demand a Fair Redistricting process to be in place at the end of the present session. Nothing less will do!
Don’t be lulled into thinking that someone else will save our democracy.It’s up to us, We the People.