Supreme Court Ruling On Gerrymandering

Based on the case that had arrived at the Supreme Court, Rucho v Common Cause, on Thursday, June 27th, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts would not have jurisdiction to partisan gerrymandering cases. This ruling annihilated the ideologies of democracy and the freedom Americans typically uphold.

A Disappointment To Democracy

A common thought many would have is, why does the Supreme Court’s decision matter?  The Supreme Court’s ruling is of utmost importance, as it not only declined to defend democracy but also because of the way it influences politics. The impact this ruling will have on the definition of democracy is that it encourages politicians to continue to ignore the interests of a significant group of voters and only satisfy the interests of their own party supporters when instead, politicians should fight for the people’s benefit in general. However, because politicians are drawing district lines in favor of their party and make the opposing party be the minority in their districts, those district elections become non-competitive. For instance, the electoral margin of victory had an average of 37.1 percent in the 2016 House of Representative elections. This signifies that a politician from either party had won with 70 percent of the votes, and the other would’ve lost with a devastating 30 percent of the votes. This clearly shows that the competition was non-existent during this election. Why does that matter? If there is no competition, it would indicate that the election has already been decided even without the ballots being cast. That does not reflect the ideals of democracy- in fact, it is quite the opposite. In a democracy, citizens should have a say in who they want to represent their voices and interests. By redrawing election maps, politicians who represent those gerrymandered districts, are ignoring those voices. 

Implications (And Dangers) Of This Ruling

This newly issued order will not only impact the significance of democracy in America but also have the potential to jeopardize the 2020 elections and other major elections. In fact, changes have already occurred in states like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Maryland where they will no longer be forced to change their election maps, against the orders of the federal courts. Hence, the Supreme Court’s ruling has indicated that partisan gerrymandering is tolerable. This message is erroneous and inappropriate, especially when it has been shown that this tactic leads to unfair results in political elections (state and congressional). For example, in 2012, the number of Democratic and Republican voters in Wisconsin were practically equal. However, because the state districts were manipulated in favor of the Republicans, the Republicans obtained around 60 percent of the seats in the assembly, despite the fact that they had less than 49 percent of the statewide popular vote. Additionally, although it has been outlawed to draw maps that target a certain race, many dread that because the Supreme Court didn’t uphold the federal courts’ strike on partisan gerrymandering, politicians can mask their true intentions, but in the end make certain minorities’ votes count less. To demonstrate, Thomas Hoffler, a Republican who formerly helped draw district lines in 2010, was found by the Common Cause organization to have used racial data as well as partisan data.

Preserving The Ideals Of Democracy

The first and foremost step to reforming the United States back into a complete democracy is to remove the obstacle that prevents politicians from seeing the views of all the American citizens: partisan gerrymandering. Although this problem seems substantially worse now than before the ruling and almost impossible to solve without the federal courts, there are still a few alternative solutions left to prohibit the tactic of partisan gerrymandering from our politics. For instance, these cases could be solved through state courts as well as Congress. Nonetheless, partisan gerrymandering may only get outlawed when citizens appoint congress representatives who share the interest of outlawing partisan gerrymandering. Most importantly, the American citizens must acknowledge and appreciate the meaning of democracy; only then can they protect it.

[Image Attribute: Angela N.]