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Supreme Court rules 5-4 to allow partisan gerrymandering in congressional maps in landmark case

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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Crowds line up outside the U.S. Supreme Court to attend the day's session on December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear cases most of this week. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal courts are not responsible in case of partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.
  • The decision places a significant importance on the power of state legislatures.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion arguing the court has “no legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority.”
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says federal courts have no role to play in policing political districts drawn for partisan gain. The decision could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting following the 2020 Census.

The justices said by a 5-4 vote Thursday that claims of partisan gerrymandering do not belong in federal court. The court’s conservative, Republican-appointed majority says that voters and elected officials should be the arbiters of what is a political dispute.

The court rejected challenges to Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina and a Democratic district in Maryland.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “We have no commission to allocate political power and influence in the absence of a constitutional directive or legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority.”

Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion, characterizing gerrymandering efforts as a perversion of democratic values.

“The partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people,” she wrote.

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