Pema Levy for Mother Jones:
This fall, millions of voters will cast ballots in legislative districts that have been deemed unconstitutional. Courts have repeatedly tossed out Republican-drawn electoral maps for excessive gerrymandering, but those maps will remain in effect through November, potentially changing who controls Congress and state legislatures for the next two years.
The blame lies with the Supreme Court. In Texas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, Democratic plaintiffs have successfully convinced federal district courts that their states’ political maps unconstitutional. Those courts have ordered new maps to be drawn. But the Supreme Court has halted that process repeatedly, causing voters to be stuck in unfairly drawn districts for yet another election cycle….
Texas is a cautionary tale, highlighting the multiple ways in which the Supreme Court has shaped redistricting litigation to favor legislators who act in bad faith to gerrymander their districts. Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, blames a Supreme Court doctrine that discourages courts from changing voting laws close to an election to avoid confusion. Originally, the court applied this principle to issues like voter ID laws and precinct closures. But in recent years, he says, it’s crept into redistricting cases, delaying the implementation of new maps by years. “It encourages litigation tactics that stretch things out as long as possible to try to get it to the next election period,” says Hasen. In many district-level elections held every two years, he says, “there’s always an election around the corner.”