Partisan gerrymandering lawsuits no longer allowed in federal court, SCOTUS says

Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, the 2022 midterm elections just became a lot more interesting.

According to The Hill, recent decisions from the high court have changed the rules of gerrymandering — the practice of redrawing districts every 10 years after a census is completed. SCOTUS recently ruled that federal courts will no longer be able to hear partisan gerrymandering lawsuits, setting up what some legal experts have called a potential gerrymandering “arms race” for the next election. 

Most of the conservative justices on the high court joined in a 5–4 decision in which they ruled that partisan gerrymandering lawsuits “raise a political question that is beyond the reach of the federal courts,” The Hill noted.

“Now that the Supreme Court has officially retreated from the area, they’ve set off what will likely be an arms race between the parties to gerrymander to the fullest extent they can in the states where they hold control,” said New York University School of Law scholar G. Michael Parsons.

In addition, a number of legal experts believe that Republicans will benefit heavily from the new rules, especially in states like Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, where, hypothetically, state lawmakers will have the ability to redraw districts heavily favoring GOP candidates.

According to a study from data firm TargetSmart, state lawmakers in the aforementioned GOP-led states “could draw anywhere from six to 13 new congressional districts that heavily favor GOP candidates — which would be enough for Republicans to retake the House in 2022.”

Add to the mix the advances in data science, machine learning, and other highly advanced algorithmic map-drawing technologies that have emerged in recent years, and partisan gerrymandering could, in theory, be a total game-changer and brand new political weapon for both parties.

Democrats, knowing full well that Republicans will have the ability to aggressively gerrymander in several key swing states, included language in the “For The People Act” to ban the practice of partisan gerrymandering. However, the bill’s future remains in question, at best, as Senate Democrats likely won’t be able to overcome a Republican filibuster blocking the legislation.

Only time will tell if one or both parties take partisan gerrymandering to the next level for the 2022 midterms, but with what’s at stake for both parties, it’s presumably a strategy that’s already in play.