Gerrymander Gazette – SCOTUS at last edition

March 26, 2019

Today, our date with the Supreme Court to decide the fate of partisan gerrymandering has finally arrived. The Justices will hear oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause, a challenge to North Carolina’s congressional districts, and Lamone v. Benisek, a challenge to the gerrymandering of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Here’s everything you need to know about the big day.

What constitutional claims are the plaintiffs making?

Who will argue the cases for the plaintiffs?

Because Rucho v. Common Cause is a consolidated case with two sets of plaintiffs, the plaintiff-appellees’ case will be argued by two gifted attorneys. The first set of plaintiffs – Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and individual plaintiffs from every congressional district in North Carolina – will be represented by Emmet Bondurant, the founding partner at the Atlanta law firm of Bondurant, Mixson, & Elmore. Read NPR’s profile of Emmetand its description of how his public advocacy has come full circle 55 years after successfully arguing another historic redistricting case. The League of Women Voters of North Carolina plaintiffs in Rucho will be represented by Allison Riggs, an experienced voting rights attorney with the North Carolina-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Lamone v. Benisek has made its way up and down the courts on procedural grounds for several years, so this will be the third time Michael Kimberly of the Mayer Brown law firm will argue this challenge in front of the Supreme Court. Mayer Brown has shepherded this case to success after it was first brought by Common Cause Maryland member and activist Steve Shapiro without the help of an attorney. Read about Shapiro’s quest to hold Maryland Democrats accountable for manipulating the congressional map.

Who filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs?

The plaintiffs in both cases have found support from a variety of bipartisan and nonpartisan sources. Calling election outcomes in gerrymandered districts “as predictable as a Harlem Globetrotters game,” former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined forces in an amicus brief. Republican and Democratic members of Congress filed an amicus brief arguing “why basic, enforceable constitutional limits on extreme partisan gerrymanders will make Congress better serve the People and thus more faithfully fulfill its constitutional role.” Leaders in local governmentcivil rights organizationshistorians21 states and the District of ColumbiaFirst Amendment specialists and civil liberties expertsNorth Carolina-based democracy organizations, and many others made the case that partisan gerrymandering offends the Constitution in amicus briefs supporting the plaintiff-appellees in both cases.

This isn’t enough! How do I get into the weeds of these historic redistricting cases?

We’re glad you asked. Common Cause produced several videos and organized conference calls on various aspects of the cases.

In an amazing coincidence, isn’t today the 207th anniversary of the day the Boston Gazette coined the term “gerrymandering”?
Yes! #mindblown

This newsletter has been produced by Common Cause and compiled by Dan Vicuna. Subscribe to the Gerrymander Gazette here. For more information or to pass along news, contact Dan Vicuna.

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