The Supreme Court stepped in on Friday and blocked decisions by lower courts in Michigan and Ohio that would require Republican legislators to redraw Congressional maps in the months leading up to the 2020 elections. Democrats had argued that the current electoral districts were designed with the intent to put them at an unlawful advantage.
Supreme Court Justices ruled in favor of Republicans in both states and put the requests for redistricting on hold. The justices did not elaborate on their decisions.
The lower courts ruled the electoral maps were drawn with the intent to give Republicans power in the states through boundary manipulation. The practice is often referred to as partisan gerrymandering and is a violation under the United States Constitution.
The disputes in both states include disagreements regarding United States House districts. However, the Michigan dispute also involves state legislature districts.
The Ohio and Michigan decisions are the latest in court rulings addressing issues with electoral maps drawn by the majority party in a state. These disputes all pertain to attempts by the majority party to undermine voter rights of state citizens that support the minority party.
The actions by the justices were a little unexpected as the court is soon expected to rule on cases of gerrymandering in North Carolina and Maryland. These cases are expected to provide a definitive answer to the question of powers of federal judges to decide issues regarding partisan gerrymandering.
The rulings in the Maryland and North Carolina cases are due in June and will go a long way to decide the longterm outcome of the disputes in Michigan and Ohio.
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina were accused of seeking an advantage in Congressional races by rigging maps to increase their probability of victory. In Maryland, it is the Democrats who are accused of a similar action over a U.S. House District.
Gerrymandering has been a part of the political process in America for many years. However, critics say they have seen a recent increase in the illegal practice.
The Supreme Court has stepped in when the voting power of minorities was being undermined but has never chosen to take on matters of partisan gerrymandering.
The lawsuits in Michigan and Ohio were filed on behalf of individual voters who support the Democratic Party and voting rights groups.
Electoral districts in America are reworked once every ten years to reflect any changes discovered in present census reports. The party in power is in control of redistricting in most states.