After Latest Blow to Voting Rights, Justice Sotomayor Warns of 'Serious Costs to Our Democracy'

Illustration for article titled After Latest Blow to Voting Rights, Justice Sotomayor Warns of Serious Costs to Our Democracy
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On Monday, the Supreme Court largely sided with Texas and North Carolina in cases challenging the fairness of their legislative maps. Per CNN, this means that officials will probably use those congressional district maps in the upcoming midterm elections, which is good news for racists and Donald Trump, and bad news for people of color and democracy.

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The Supreme Court issued decisions on two cases: In the Texas case, the court reversed the decision of a lower court that found a 2013 legislative map was intentionally racially discriminatory. The court decided that only one of the four challenged districts intentionally discriminated against people of color.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued the dissent in that case, joined by the court’s three liberal judges:

“This disregard of both precedent and fact comes at serious costs to our democracy. It means that, after years of litigation and undeniable proof of intentional discrimination, minority voters in Texas—despite constituting a majority of the population within the State—will continue to be underrepresented in the political process. Those voters must return to the polls in 2018 and 2020 with the knowledge that their ability to exercise meaningfully their right to vote has been burdened by the manipulation of district lines specifically designed to target their communities and minimize their political will. The fundamental right to vote is too precious to be disregarded in this manner.”

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The court also tossed out a lower court’s decision striking down North Carolina’s congressional maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, mirroring its ruling in a Wisconsin case last week. Citing the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, the court asked the lower court to determine whether the challengers have offered enough concrete evidence to prove the map has placed a burden on their ability to vote.

This mean that voting rights for people of color continue to be in serious danger. “The common thread in the court’s gerrymandering decisions this term has been to generally make it harder for plaintiffs to bring these claims,” Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School, told CNN, “and to generally allow states more flexibility and deference in drawing congressional and state district lines.”

RIP, voting. It was cool while you lasted.

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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DISCUSSION

fortunatelythelemons
FortunatelyTheLemons

As a resident of Houston, TX—a thoroughly purple city that often swings blue—this decision enrages me. TX isn’t quite as red as people think; rather, there’s a deeply entrenched red power structure that makes backroom deals and gerrymanders the blue cities all to hell, virtually ensuring that no matter the popular vote, the worst of the worst will always get the top representational spots. Witness the cracking of Austin: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/5/17067544/texas-republicans-gerrymandering-primary-2018-midterms . The only way out for us is for SCOTUS to recognize how deeply this violates the democratic process.