The Supreme Court has vacated and remanded the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case, rather than setting it for argument. This is another sign Justice Kennedy is not ready to weigh back in so fast. I discussed what that remand order could mean at the end of my Slate piece on Gill.
But even with a remand the case could be back before the Supreme Court for the next term (even if that next term does not include Justice Kennedy).
If what North Carolina can do is kosher, then there really would be no limits on partisan gerrymandering. This is the case where the state explicitly admitted it was drawing lines solely for partisan advantage. As I wrote at Slate:
North Carolina was explicit it was making a partisan choice, to blunt the claim that it was making a racial choice. It looks like a Kennedy-like First Amendment injury. North Carolina state Rep. David Lewis said he “propose[d] that [the committee] draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats because [he] d[id] not believe it [would be] possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats.”
The court will likely remand the North Carolina case to reconsider in light of Monday’s rulings, because it has a similar standing problem to the Gill case. But the lower court will likely act quickly after remand, and the case likely will be back before the Supreme Court early next term.
At that point, Justice Hamlet, should he decide to actually make a decision, could take that case and settle this whole thing. But don’t hold your breath