Monthly Archives: July 2004

Issacharoff and Karlan on Larios and Vieth

Pam Karlan and Sam Issacharoff have posted Where to Draw the Line? Vieth v. Jubelirer, Cox v. Larios, and Judicial Review of Political Gerrymanders (forthcoming University of Pennsylvania Law Review). Here is the abstract:’

    A striking feature of the post-2000 redistricting is not only the continued – indeed, ever-increasing – vigor of partisan line drawing, but the array of doctrinal tools litigators and courts have invoked in attempts to rein it in: Article I; the First Amendment; the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in a wide range of flavors; the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and a variety of state-law principles.
    We offer a preliminary reaction to the Court’s decisions in Vieth v. Jubelirer, 124 S.Ct. 1769 (2004), and Cox v. Larios, 124 S.Ct. 2806 (2004), that places those decisions in the broader context of the Court’s failure to confront ends-oriented redistricting practices. In Vieth, four justices declared claims of excessive partisanship nonjusticiable. And yet, three of those justices were soon part of an eight-Justice majority that agreed in Larios to summarily affirm a lower court decision striking down a plan on the grounds that relatively small population deviations were constitutionally impermissible because they reflected blatantly partisan protection of Democratic incumbents while undermining Republican-held seats.
    Our central claims are two-fold. First, no matter how difficult judicial review of political gerrymandering claims may be, it is impossible actually to render such claims nonjusticiable. The availability of a range of unavoidable doctrinal claims means that a significant number of the partisan gerrymanders that courts find constitutionally offensive

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