High court leaning toward non-judicial redistricting plans
Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court enforced a redrawing of district maps last year that had major implications in elections.
It was heavy-handed and more political than we’d like courts to be, especially because the orders came just a few months before an election.
Since then, there has been a strong movement toward redistricting established by a bipartisan commission following the 2020 census.
It’s good the state is moving in that direction, because recent arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court indicate that the nation’s highest court may soon be issuing a ruling that takes courts out of the redistricting business.
The high court listened to two hours of arguments regarding Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina and a single district drawn to benefit Democrats in Maryland.
The two newest justices both repeatedly questioned whether unelected judges should police the partisan actions of elected officials.
“Why should we wade into this?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked.
“Have we really reached the moment, even though it would be a big lift for this court to get involved, where the other actors can’t do it?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked.
Gorsuch spotlighted the court’s 2015 ruling upholding Arizona voters’ decision to take redistricting away from the Legislature and create an independent commission as proof there are other ways to handle the issue.
Their sentiments are correct. And we would not mind a high court ruling that forces states to take redistricting out of the hands of unelected judges.
Pennsylvania’s electoral maps should not include districts that look like Rorschach tests. And we refuse to believe there aren’t enough fair-minded people in the entire state to draw practical boundaries.