Gerrymandering: Legality TBD
On Tuesday, March 26, the United States Supreme Court hears opening arguments on what may be one of the most important political issues leading up to the 2020 elections- gerrymandering. While gerrymandering has been commonplace for centuries in the United States, the Supreme Court will finally decide whether the practice violates the Constitution.
The Supreme Court case will involve several recent gerrymandering situations, including North Carolina’s Republican 2016 drawing of political borders and Maryland’s Democrat-focused gerrymandering in 2011. These recent cases are now forcing the sitting Justices to consider several issues considered contentious over past decades, including whether there are “degrees” of legality of gerrymandering.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the pending gerrymandering cases will undoubtedly have an impact on the congressional and presidential elections in 2020. A ruling that gerrymandering—at least in some forms—is unconstitutional will affect the way the electoral college in many states will swing for presidential election purposes. In contrast, a ruling that gerrymandering practices are entirely constitutional could encourage house-controlled state legislatures to redraw congressional districts to the favor of the majority party on a regular basis. Until that ruling is made, gerrymandering practices continue to occur throughout the country, without the oversight that this ruling will provide—meaning any decision of the Court will shed more light on the legalities of the practice than currently exist.