Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway. - The New York Times

Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway. - The New York Times

Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway. - The New York Times
Aug 08, 2022 2 mins, 49 secs

But a shift in election law philosophy at the Supreme Court, combined with a new aggressiveness among Republicans who drew the maps, has upended that model for the elections in November.

This time, all four states are using the rejected maps, and questions about their legality for future elections will be hashed out in court later.

David Wasserman, who follows congressional redistricting for the Cook Political Report, said that using rejected maps in the four states, which make up nearly 10 percent of the seats in the House, was likely to hand Republicans five to seven House seats that they otherwise would not have won.

Behind much of the change is the Supreme Court’s embrace of an informal legal doctrine stating that judges should not order changes in election procedures too close to an actual election.

It’s the redrawing of the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

In March, the court cited an approaching primary election in refusing to block a North Carolina Supreme Court order undoing a Republican gerrymander of that state’s congressional map.

The judges ordered the Legislature to draw a new map exactly four months before the May primary elections — a stretch of time that, not long ago, another Supreme Court would have considered generous.

But the Supreme Court issued an emergency stay blocking the order two weeks later, restoring the rejected map for this election.

Kavanaugh’s words in deciding not to order a new congressional map for that state — this time three months before primary elections — even though he said the State Legislature’s map, like Alabama’s, probably violated the Voting Rights Act.

And in June, the Supreme Court blocked a lower court order for a new congressional map in Louisiana on the same grounds.

Allowing elections using maps rejected by lower courts has been exceedingly rare in the last half-century.

In Ohio, both congressional and legislative elections this year are being run under maps that the state Supreme Court has ruled are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

The G.O.P.-led Ohio Redistricting Commission, which drew the rejected maps, was threatened with contempt for foot-dragging in producing maps of State Legislature districts.

It waited nearly seven weeks this spring to produce a second congressional map after the state Supreme Court rejected the first one.

A three-judge federal panel later imposed the Redistricting Commission’s state legislative maps this spring, citing looming election deadlines.

The state Supreme Court again rejected the second congressional map as a partisan gerrymander — but in July, after a long trial, and months after the map had been used in the state’s May primary election.

“What happened in Ohio is an especially egregious flouting of the rule of law, purely for partisan advantage and contrary to what the state’s voters wanted with redistricting reform,” said Ned Foley, an Ohio State University law professor and a leading election law expert.

But the Supreme Court “is putting next to no weight on the democratic harms caused by unlawful district maps, while it overstates the administrative inconvenience of redrawing districts,” said Nicholas Stephanopoulos, an election law scholar at Harvard University

Some election law experts speculate that the court intends to reverse lower-court decisions striking down the Alabama and Louisiana maps after it hears a crucial elections case in October

And that is why maps deemed in violation of it should have been replaced, Professor Stephanopoulos said

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