On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal district court’s ruling that twenty-eight state legislative districts are racially gerrymandered, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be getting a special election this year.
The court’s three-page order zeroed in on the district court’s decision last year to call for new maps and special elections, explaining that it decided to vacate the order because the district court “addressed the balance of equities in only the most cursory fashion.”
While the district acknowledged that “special elections have costs,” it reasoned that those costs “pale in comparison” to the injustice of citizens being “represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander.”
The Supreme Court didn’t find that persuasive: “We cannot have confidence that the court adequately grappled with the interests on both sides of the remedial question before us.”
Long story short: the districts are indeed racially gerrymandered and unconstitutional, but the district court is going to have to take another crack at what to do about it. It’s possible that the lower court could again order a special election for later this year, but it will have to convince John Roberts and company that it did its homework this time.
Otherwise, it seems that the legislature will have to draw new districts ahead of the 2018 General Assembly elections.
This article appeared in print with the headline “+MAPPED INJUSTICE.”