Civil Rights Organizations Weigh in on Supreme Court’s Decision on Partisan Gerrymandering

Federal judges have no authority to address partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court said in a 5-to-4 decision that allows politicians to keep drawing electoral districts that entrench their power unless state law—or future congressional legislation—keeps them from doing so, reported The Wall Street Journal.

After hearing the decision, presidential candidate Seth Moulton tweeted that he blamed the 2018 loss of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on gerrymandering.

“Make no mistake: the partisan gerrymandering SCOTUS just allowed is also racial gerrymandering—a modern-day Jim Crow. Just look at what happened with Stacey Abrams last cycle in Georgia,” he tweeted.

Several civil rights organizations, such as the National Action Network and the NAACP also weighed in.

“It is a sad day for democracy in the United States. The Supreme Court abdicated its duty to preserve free and fair elections with its negligent decision to not strike down partisan gerrymandering but instead asking states to draw maps without judicial review,” said Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, in a statement. “The highest court in the land, in fact, chose to condone partisan gerrymandering, a political tactic that has long been used to suppress political representation for black and brown voters and ultimately helped to elect Trump.” He continued: “This week marks the sixth Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision which gutted section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Since the Shelby decision, we have seen an increase in Jim Crow Era election practices. Gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and voter roll purging are all racist tactics to suppress the votes of low income and black and brown people.”

According to Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP,  the Court’s rulings upend democratic principles by allowing party politics to determine the outcomes of elections. “Extreme partisan gerrymandering has infected our electoral process for far too long. Exercise of the franchise, which many fought and even died for, must not be reduced to a political charade in which the outcomes are predetermined. In America, voters should choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters,” he said in a statement.

“The Court should have halted this unconstitutional conduct, but it did not. This is a dereliction of duty in protecting our democracy. In racially polarized environments like North Carolina where racial block voting is standard, today’s decision will license policymakers to mask racial intent as partisan gerrymandering in order to suppress votes and prevent communities from fully participating in democracy to elect candidates of their choice.”

Johnson concluded with a call to action — noting entitlement to fair maps and fair representation in every state.

“We call upon elected officials everywhere – as well as state courts – to reject partisanship and insist on fair redistricting so that everyone can have a voice.”

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