Enough is Enough - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Enough is Enough

If enough is enough, how much is too much?

The Supreme Court refused to answer that question on June 27 in the partisan gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek.

Partisan gerrymandering is when public officials, often lawmakers, intentionally draw electoral districts to favor their party and/or political interests. The practice often results in one party holding a disproportionate number of seats in a state legislature, and dilutes the power and voice of voters based on their race or political affiliation.

The two partisan gerrymandering cases asked the Court to provide guidelines on when enough is enough regarding using partisanship as the primary reason for drafting districts. The Court not only refused to provide limits, it essentially gave elected officials the ability to carve districts any way they choose in the name of partisanship. In the past, the court has issued opinions on when the use of race in gerrymandering rises to a constitutionally inappropriate level, but apparently no such limit exists when it comes to partisanship.

Enough is indeed enough.

In Rucho v. Common Cause, Republicans drafted a gerrymandered redistricting plan in North Carolina.  In Lamone v. Benisek, Democrats drew a gerrymandered plan in Maryland. In both cases, the drafters explicitly stated that they intended to draw a plan that advantaged their political party.

The Court, however, found that notwithstanding these proclamations, this was not enough to enter into the “political thicket” of partisan gerrymandering. Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”

Justice Elana Kagan expressed her discontent with the ruling, “gerrymandering is, as so many Justices have emphasized before, anti-democratic in the most profound sense. Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent.”

With that statement, partisan gerrymandering claims are now in the hands of each individual state. A push for redistricting reform must now focus on the state courts and state legislatures to provide safeguards for partisan overreach. This reliance on the states raises the stakes for the 2020 election.

The partisan gerrymandering ruling provides a clear focus on legislative and congressional elections in 2020. Here’s how: persons elected in the 2020 cycle will draw the districts for elections held over the next decade. In 2021 after states receive the Census count for their states, counties, cities, school boards and other jurisdictions, the redistricting process begins. This time, it will occur without the federal oversight that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act provided and with those elected officials understanding that the federal courts will not review their “undemocratic” efforts to game the system in a way that provides an unrealistic advantage to the elected political party. This makes the election in 2020 extremely important – not just for the Presidential Election, but for democracy.

Enough is enough.

Gilda R. Daniels is the Litigation Director for Advancement Project National Office

KEEP READING

Florida Voting Rights Organizations Prepare for Legal Showdown in Statewide Elections Trial

A coalition of racial justice organizations filed a trial brief documenting the gross inaction of the state of Florida in making voting changes amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More
Racial Justice Organizations Condemn ‘Catastrophic’ Georgia Primary Election

The state’s primary was a nightmare and the perfect example of how not to run an election.

Read More
Former Virginia Commissioner of Elections Files Brief in Support of Absentee Ballot Accommodations Made by Commonwealth in Wake of COVID-19

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Advancement Project National Office and Hogan Lovells filed an amicus brief and declaration on behalf of Edgardo Cortés, Virginia’s first Commissioner of Elections, in support of the absentee voting accommodations made by Virginia to protect voters from potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. The brief, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Thomas Curtin v. Virginia State Board of Elections, urges the court to deny a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs several weeks into the absentee voting process for the state’s June 23rd primary. “Plaintiffs now…

Read More
Democratizing Voter Protection

  Access to the ballot gives Black and Brown communities power in the matters that affect their lives. State and local election officials that administer elections are critical players in ensuring access to the ballot. Year-round accountability with these election officials and following up on potential barriers is the only way to ensure smooth and inclusive elections. Advancement Project continues to lead the charge for free, fair and assessable elections, learning from the failed election administration practices and partisan political practices from the 2000 election debacle. We have a permanent presence on the ground working alongside grassroots and faith based civic engagement organizations, which register,…

Read More
Racial Justice Groups Take Legal Action Against FL Governor Ron DeSantis Demanding Changes to Upcoming Elections Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave, Advancement Project National Office, [email protected], (202) 921-7321 Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected] Christiaan Perez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, [email protected], (212) 739-7581     Civil Rights Organizations Renew Call for Emergency Accommodations for State’s August and November Election.  TALLAHASSEE – Today, a coalition of racial justice organizations renewed legal action against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, demanding emergency accommodations to the state’s election procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The updated complaint, filed by Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Advancement Project National Office, Demos and…

Read More
Racial Justice Organizations to GA Governor Brian Kemp: Make Emergency Accommodations for Upcoming Elections Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] (202) 921-7321 Civil Rights Organizations Demand Action to Ensure All Voters Can Safely Participate in GA Presidential Primary and State Elections ATLANTA, GA—Today, New Georgia Project and Advancement Project National Office filed a letter with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, demanding immediate changes to the state’s upcoming primary election procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter requests accommodations for voters statewide and demands action to protect the voting rights of those directly and indirectly impacted by Georgia’s first public health state…

Read More
Racial Justice Organizations Issue Statement on Second Florida Ruling Denying Extension of Vote-By-Mail Deadline Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave, Advancement Project National Office, [email protected], (202) 921-7321 Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected] Christiaan Perez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, [email protected], (212) 739-7581 Litigation is still ongoing to seek accommodations for future elections TALLAHASSEE, FL—On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Florida denied a second motion filed by a group of racial justice organizations to protect the right to vote of all Floridians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed the latest motion on Tuesday on behalf of Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority,…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations File Lawsuit to Extend Florida Primary Election Vote-By-Mail Deadline Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave, Advancement Project National Office, [email protected], (202) 921-7321 Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected] Christiaan Perez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, [email protected], (212) 739-7581 Group wants vote-by-mail deadline extended to March 27, citing state’s failure to make accommodation for those impacted by the current public health crisis TALLAHASSEE, FL—Civil rights organizations have filed a renewed petition in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida against Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee to require the state to extend the vote-by-mail deadline for Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Primary in Florida in the wake of the…

Read More
Racial Justice Organizations Issue Statement on Florida Ruling Denying Emergency Voter Accommodations Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave, [email protected] 202-728-9557 TALLAHASSEE, FL—On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied a motion filed by a coalition of racial justice organizations to protect the right to vote of all Floridians impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The complaint, filed by Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida represented by Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, requested Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee extend the deadline to request and submit Vote-by-Mail ballots, extend early voting, and allowing…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations File Lawsuit to Ensure Floridians Impacted by COVID-19 Can Participate in Presidential Primary Election

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave, Advancement Project National Office, [email protected], (202) 921-7321 Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected] Christiaan Perez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, [email protected], (212) 739-7581   TALLAHASSEE—Today, a coalition of racial justice organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida against Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee for refusing to make reasonable voting accommodations for Floridians impacted by COVID-19. In a motion submitted by Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF plaintiffs allege the state’s failure to extend vote-by-mail deadlines, adjust…

Read More