Supreme Court's gerrymandering ruling a victory for limited government

  • 1 July 2019
  • NormanL

The recently ended Supreme Court term offered a number of surprises, not least of which was the court's 5-4 ruling that so-called "partisan gerrymandering" isn't a subject federal courts can decide.

It's a big deal for a few reasons, not the least of which is it shows the Supreme Court exercizing restraint -- something the federal government as whole rarely does. But this decision has brought out the usual suspects, saying it represents the end of democracy as we know it:

“In a democracy, voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around, on Election Day,” said Common Cause National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng. “But the Supreme Court today gave the green light to the most extreme partisan gerrymanders, where legislators openly boasted about their partisan motives, stripping not only the people of North Carolina and Maryland, but all Americans, of the right to fair representation.”

In a republic, the people have the power, through their elected representatives, to establish whatever sort of redistricting mechanism they want (subject to some limits -- the court has, rightly, taken a very dim view of racial gerrymandering in recent rulings).

That the court ruled these are political, and not legal, questions does not mean the end is nigh. What it does mean is that using the sometimes slow, often frustrating, process of electing state legislators and governors who will adopt rational redistricting processes is the only way to go. That's "democracy" in action -- as opposed to judicial fiat.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” [Chief Justice John] Roberts wrote. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

A solid decision that embraces limited government

You can read the entire decision here.