Law review: U.S. Supreme Court rules against racial gerrymandering – shocking

Jim Porter / Columnist
Jim Porter

In recent years, the highly partisan, conservative Supreme Court has essentially gutted the Voting Rights Act by continuing to allow, if not endorse, racial gerrymandering of congressional districts.

A “red map” upheld

A bit of recent history.

North Carolina’s Republican Party drew partisan congressional districts in such an obvious and corrupt manner that they were commonly referred to as a “Red Maps,” even by Republicans. The instructions given to the Republicans drawing the maps in North Carolina were “create as many districts as possible in which GOP candidates would be able to successfully compete for office…and to minimize the number of districts in which Democrats would have an opportunity to elect a Democratic candidate.” Blatant corruption.

As I wrote in 2018, discriminatory gerrymandering like that makes my blood boil. North Carolina’s reconfiguring of congressional districts rivals the convoluted boundary lines drawn by the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Chief Justice Roberts a disappointment

Both the Wisconsin case and the North Carolina case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Need I remind you that our narcissistic President at the time selected Supreme Court candidates exclusively from a partisan list provided to him by the Federalist Society, a right-wing Republican group. Justice Kavanaugh was selected, not due to his beer drinking, but because he

once wrote a legal opinion that a sitting president could not be charged with a crime. In hindsight, a ticket to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the North Carolina case acknowledging that “excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust.” He cited a previous court ruling calling gerrymandering “incompatible with democratic principles.”

Talk is cheap, Roberts upheld both the Wisconsin and North Carolina partisan boundaries, opining that drawing congressional districts is not the business of the courts and should be handled by state legislatures. Of course, that would be the state legislatures that created partisan corrupt maps in the first place!

Alabama case shocks everyone

However, in a surprise 5-4 ruling last month, a coalition of liberal and conservative justices upheld the lower court and outlawed Alabama’s corruptly drawn redistricting plan. Twenty-seven percent of the state’s population is African American but because of the way the congressional district lines were drawn, black voters could only elect one out of the state’s seven districts – by design of course.

Somehow, and to their credit, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh joined the majority and ruled that what Alabama’s Legislature did was too much – over the line so to speak.

Even though the Roberts’ court has essentially gutted the Voting Rights Act, which was created to ensure fairness in congressional elections, there is apparently a limit to how corrupt district boundaries may be drawn, at least when it comes to disenfranchising African Americans.

Justice Thomas racist dissent

Justice Thomas did not disappoint. In his Dissenting Opinion he wrote it is improper to consider race when drawing congressional district boundaries – blatantly ignoring that racial considerations were the basis of the Alabama Legislature’s gerrymandered districts – to dilute black votes.

Brand new U.S. Supreme Court case

In another pleasant surprise the court last week reversed a decision it made last summer and rejected Louisiana’s blatantly discriminatory gerrymandering of Congressional district boundaries. The Louisiana case, of course, followed it’s Alabama ruling – Allen v. Milligan.

Maybe there is hope for this court after all. Naw.

Jim Porter is a retired attorney from the Porter Simon law firm. These are Jim’s personal opinions. Porter Simon has offices in Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada. Porter Simon’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, family law, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. Jim may be reached at Like us on Facebook. ©2023

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.