Posted by Drew Spencer Penrose on April 20, 2016
This week, we were treated to a rare event: the Supreme Court releasing a unanimous opinion on a politically contentious issue... again!
This time, the Supreme Court in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission reiterated its prior holdings that if a state keeps population disparity between districts below 10%, then they will be upheld unless the population disparity exists because of an illegitimate purpose. In this case, the challengers couldn't prove that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission had any purpose other than good faith compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
This was the wrong case to bring as a challenge to intentional partisan gerrymandering. The Court assumed (without deciding) that partisan motivations were improper, but even under that assumption the Arizona districts could have simply been drawn to comply with the Voting Rights Act. A more interesting case on partisan gerrymandering will be coming from Wisconsin soon: its trial is set for next month.