Reform the Supreme Court to Help Preserve the American Democracy
On June 27, the Supreme Court handed down a 5–4 ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause that harmed the American democracy by permitting virtually unrestricted gerrymandering at the state level.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts justified this action by explaining, “Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal court.” Justice Roberts did admit, however, that “Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seems unjust.”
Justice Elena Kagan felt that excessive partisanship not only seemed unjust — it is unjust. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Kagan noted that partisan gerrymandering “…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.” She went on to state, “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.”
We agree with Justice Kagan. This decision was as harmful to the interests of average Americans as the egregious 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, which effectively elevated “free speech” of the corporation above that of the citizen.
That decision harmed our democracy. This new case adds insult to that injury.
There is no doubt that this will cause activists to mobilize in support of fair districting initiatives within states to establish nonpartisan independent commissions to manage the drawing of voting district lines. Eight states currently have independent or nonpartisan redistricting rules in place, and at least five others are considering them.
These “fixes” will only partially address the harm that has been done to the democracy by the Rucho decision. They will not get at the root cause of this problem, which is the increasing “politicization” of the Supreme Court and the undemocratic nature of the judicial nomination process itself.
The unwillingness of the GOP-controlled Senate to even consider holding hearings on Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s Supreme Court…