This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Supreme Court Punts on Gerrymandering Cases

I've blogged several times over the years about gerrymandering--the practice of drawing Congressional district boundaries in such a way as to influence election results. This gets to the heart of the Constitutional basis of the U.S. decennial census, the results of which are, by law, used to define the districts for members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lower courts have ruled against several redistricting plans in states, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court set those cases aside on technical grounds without ever really deciding the issue. Of course, that actually tends to decide the issue in favor of the status quo. That just happened again this morning, as the U.S. Supreme Court punted on cases in Texas and especially in North Carolina, which I had blogged about a few months ago. CNN reports this regarding today's ruling:
In an unsigned order Monday, the court wiped away a lower court opinion that had invalidated congressional maps in North Carolina as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and instructed the lower court to revisit the case in light of the Supreme Court's recent opinion concerning maps in Wisconsin.
In that case, Gill v. Whitford, a 9-0 court held that challengers did not have the legal right to bring the suit because they had failed to prove "concrete and particularized" injury that would demonstrate that the right to vote had been burdened. Now the lower court will have to see how the Wisconsin ruling should impact North Carolina.
Even before ruling, the Supreme Court had suggested it was skeptical of the North Carolina ruling. The court voted 7-2 in January to put it on hold until it could act. That meant the maps would likely be used for the next election.
The Washington Post pointed out that the consequence of the gerrymandered districts in North Carolina is that 10 of that state's 13 Congressional representatives are Republican, even though the Republican candidates won only 53% of the state's votes overall. That pretty much defines the goal of gerrymandering.

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