Three initial thoughts in response to today’s disastrous 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that partisan gerrymandering is perfectly constitutional.
#1 – This is a victory for and validation of Trumpism, that horrendous and deeply cynical brand of politics that values power and “winning” over all other things. With this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unleashes hundreds of legislative bodies across the nation to do the bidding of rich and powerful patrons and to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters for decades to come. It gives the green light to politicians of all parties to, essentially, enact any scheme of legislative representation that a Russian computer hacker can come up with.
#2 – The ruling is a grave blow to, and a tragically sad day for, the U.S. Constitution. As Justice Elena Kagan so eloquently put it in her dissenting opinion:
“For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities. And not just any constitutional violation. The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy,turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”
#3- The ongoing fight over the composition of our federal courts is a fight to save our democracy. There is a direct line to be drawn between today’s ruling and the U.S. Senate’s outrageous refusal to allow President Barack Obama to fill the 2016 vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court that was created by the death of Antonin Scalia. The unprecedented and immoral blockade of Judge Merrick Garland both provided the groundwork for today’s ruling and helped further cement the right’s embrace of an utterly cynical, win-at-all costs brand of politics that is leading our nation down a very dark and dangerous path. All patriotic Americans must commit to doing everything in their power to halt and push back against the ongoing coup d’état that the Right is effecting against the once-honorable American judiciary.
Oh, and one more thing: The ruling does nothing to prevent North Carolina state judges from striking down partisan gerrymandering under our state constitution. Let’s hope that happens right away.