Category Archives: redistricting

“Republicans win a temporary freeze in New York’s redistricting fight”


 Republicans won a preliminary round in latest legal fight over New York’s congressional districts: The state’s top court Tuesday declined to force a mapmaking commission to immediately start drafting new lines.

The maps drawn in 2022 were tossed when the courts concluded Democrats didn’t take the proper steps before enacting them, leading to court-drawn lines that helped Republicans flip three House seats that were critical to the GOP winning House control….

A final decision in mid-December could mean the commission won’t be able to agree on a meeting date until sometime after the holidays. They would then only have a couple of weeks to send their drafts to the Legislature, and options like holding public hearings throughout the state would likely be difficult.

A process like that could help Republicans launch yet another challenge to any maps approved by the Democrat-dominated Legislature next year, in which the GOP would argue that the new plan skipped constitutionally necessary steps.

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“Moore and Partisan Gerrymandering”

Manoj Mate has posted this draft on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article examines the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Moore v. Harper on state partisan gerrymandering. Moore rejected the independent state legislature theory in affirming that state courts could review state regulations of federal elections. However, Moore also articulated a vague standard under which federal courts could review state court decisions to ensure they do not “transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review” by assuming powers vested in state legislatures under the federal Elections Clause.

I analyze Moore’s impact on the substantive dimension of state court review in conjunction with the procedural dimension of state partisan gerrymandering disputes, by focusing on a problem that Moore does not squarely address—evasion of anti-partisan gerrymandering processes and norms by legislatures, redistricting commissions and other political actors. I argue that Rucho and Moore entrench a model of federalism that contributes to representation diminution by allowing federal courts to undermine state court checks on state partisan gerrymanders, while at the same time failing to address the problem of evasion of norms prohibiting partisan gerrymandering. As this article illustrates, political actors have defied and evaded state constitutional and statutory provisions in surprising and concerning ways. State legislatures and redistricting commissions have evaded constitutional provisions governing partisan gerrymandering norms and redistricting processes, and also defied and resisted court decisions ordering the adoption of remedial maps in their push to implement partisan gerrymanders.

This article begins by situating Moore within theories of federalism, democracy, and election law, highlighting how Moore could weaken state courts’ role in policing partisan gerrymandering, while not addressing the problem of evasion of politically entrenched norms against partisan gerrymandering . It then provides a descriptive account of state partisan gerrymandering regimes, by analyzing variation in the pathways through which states have entrenched norms against partisan gerrymandering, and variation in evasion strategies employed by political actors. It then assesses Moore’s implications for state constitutionalism by examining its potential impact on state court interpretation and state electoral governance, state court responses to evasion dynamics, and how patterns of evasion highlight key weaknesses in the institutional design of state redistricting reforms, and weaknesses in judicial remedies. The article concludes by considering broader implications for federalism, democracy, and the role of courts.

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“Wisconsin’s Democratic governor rejects GOP’s surprise redistricting plan”


Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers shot down as “bogus” a surprise plan Republicans floated Tuesday that would have the Legislature approve new maps drawn by nonpartisan staff, preempting the state Supreme Court from tossing the current GOP-drawn boundaries.

The Republican move comes as Wisconsin justices are considering two Democratic-backed lawsuits seeking to toss the current maps, first enacted in 2011, that are among the most gerrymandered in the country and have helped Republicans increase their majority.

Republicans have long opposed plans put forward by Democrats to enact a nonpartisan redistricting process. But now, faced with the likelihood that the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court was going to throw out their maps ahead of the 2024 election, Republicans proposed enacting a new system modeled after neighboring Iowa.

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“How the Supreme Court Should Respond to Alabama’s Defiance”

Kate Shaw for the NYT:

Alabama’s appeal confronts the Supreme Court with a profound test. The case may appear to involve a set of technical questions about one state’s legislative map. But it is more fundamentally about whether the Supreme Court should still be viewed as in any sense standing outside politics. Facing a crisis in public confidence, the court should take the opportunity to regain some of its rapidly dwindling legitimacy by sending a clear message that even its ideological fellow travelers do not get a pass from abiding by its rulings.

Alabama’s conduct in this case also reveals just how serious a problem discrimination against Black voters remains — and thus how vital the Voting Rights Act is today. The Supreme Court’s response will thus have implications beyond the bounds of this case — and it will be measured for what it reveals about both the court’s legitimacy and the future of the Voting Rights Act.

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“Alabama Asks Supreme Court to Revisit Dispute Over Congressional Map”


Alabama filed an emergency application in the Supreme Court on Monday evening, asking the justices to keep in place for now a congressional map that a lower court had found failed to comply with orders to establish a second majority-Black district or something “close to it.”

The application means that the court is again poised to consider the role of race in establishing voting districts for federal elections, three months after the justices, in a surprise ruling, rejected an earlier iteration of the map that they said had diluted the power of Black voters.

The request for emergency relief came in response to a ruling from a three-judge panel, which found that the Republican-controlled Legislature had most likely violated a landmark civil rights law because it had not drawn a second district aimed at allowing Black voters the chance to elect representatives. Instead, over the objections of Democrats, the Legislature approved a map that increased the percentage of Black voters in one of the state’s six majority-white congressional districts to about 40 percent, from roughly 30 percent….

In seeking emergency relief as an appeal moves forward, Alabama’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, acknowledged that the Legislature had not added a second majority-Black district to its map as dictated by the federal court, but said its new map still complied with the law.

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“How a New City Council Map of L.A. Turned Into a Political Brawl”


The redistricting battle in Los Angeles underscores how some big city leaders — often Democrats — have used gerrymandering for their political advantage, much the way Republican lawmakers have redrawn legislative lines to secure or expand their control over some statehouses. Similar fights have been waged in BostonMiami and Chicago.

The conflict in Los Angeles became a national controversy last fall after audio was leaked that revealed the shockingly frank, racist language that politicians used behind closed doors to discuss where to draw district boundaries. Nury Martinez, the former council president, used slurs to describe the young, Black child of a white colleague, as well as Indigenous immigrants from Oaxaca, and was forced to resign.

But the uproar over the recordings obscured the more fundamental impact of Los Angeles’s 2021 redistricting process: the degree to which political interference by council members directly undermined some of the very goals the politicians said they were trying to achieve.

As the city prepares this fall to look closely at what lessons were learned from the scandal-ridden process, The New York Times conducted dozens of interviews with redistricting commissioners, council members, neighborhood leaders and experts on voting rights to understand the ultimate outcomes of the closed-door maneuvering. Maps of the various district configurations were analyzed to examine their impacts on race and other demographics.

In instance after instance, the review showed, the recommendations of the commission appointed to review district boundaries — advice based on months of neighborhood meetings, expert studies and comments from the community — were largely ignored as the council pushed through a map that would help re-elect the incumbents.

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“Dems inch toward House majority with recent court wins”


The fundamentals of the 2024 campaign are still taking shape, but one thing is already clear: A flurry of court actions might cost Republicans the House majority.

In the past nine days, state and federal judges threw out two congressional maps — and helped Democrats avoid a worst-case scenario in Ohio — kicking off an unusually busy redistricting calendar heading into the election year.

All told, a dozen or more seats across at least six states could be redrawn, increasing the likelihood Democrats could chip away the five-seat GOP House majority through redistricting alone.

Democrats could pick up an extra seat in each of a handful of states, including Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, and perhaps several more in New York. Republicans could still pick up as many as four seats in North Carolina, but the recent rulings put Democrats in a position to offset those losses — and then some.

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“Kennedy’s Supreme Court legacy is being erased, in part by past clerks”

Deep dive by Bob Barnes for WaPo:

Other changes attributable to Kennedy’s departure have drawn less attention. For years, Kennedy was alone among the conservative justices in believing extreme partisan gerrymandering —drawing legislative districts to favor the political party in power — might violatea voter’s constitutional rights and warrant the intervention of federal courts.

Less than a year after their former boss’s retirement, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted with the court’s other conservatives to say the Constitution doesn’t assign federal judges a role in making such determinations.

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“A Georgia trial arguing redistricting harmed Black voters could decide control of a US House seat”


Democrats could gain a seat in the U.S. House and multiple seats in Georgia’s Legislature if a judge rules Republicans drew maps illegally weakening Black voters’ power.

The trial beginning Tuesday is part of a wave of litigation progressing after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year stood behind its interpretation of the Voting Rights Act, rejecting Alabama’s challenge to the law.

The Voting Rights Act says voting district lines can’t result in discriminatory effects against minority voters, who must be allowed a chance to elect candidates of their choosing….

In Georgia, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is hearing what is expected to be a two-week case without a jury. If he rules against the state, he is likely to order Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to redraw districts to comply with the law.

The trial yokes together three different cases, meaning Jones could rule for the challengers in some instances and not others.

Jones already ruled in March 2022 that some parts of Georgia’s redistricting plans probably violate federal law. He allowed the new congressional and state legislative maps to be used for 2022’s elections, finding changes close to elections would have been too disruptive.

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