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Supreme Court Opts to Let NC, Pennsylvania Maps Stand for 2022 Election

March 8, 2022 by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Opts to Let NC, Pennsylvania Maps Stand for 2022 Election
Tourists visit the Supreme Court, January 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court on Monday evening turned back efforts by North Carolina and Pennsylvania Republicans to have the high court throw out new redistricting plans in their respective states.

In separate orders, the justices declared the new districts will be used in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

In both states the Republican Party claimed the new maps would favor the election of more Democrats in a year that the GOP appeared poised to take over control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

As in other redistricting cases across the country, Republicans from the two states have been arguing that state courts lack the authority to second-guess legislatures’ decisions about maps, the conduct of elections for Congress and the presidency.

In addition to state law they also pointed to a 2019 Supreme Court ruling that said federal courts may not intervene to prevent partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.

But the decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, also explicitly said that state courts may enforce limits on gerrymandering under state constitutional and statutory provisions. The Pennsylvania and North Carolina supreme courts then ruled that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional under their respective state constitutions.

Writing in dissent, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said he would have taken up the case, seeing it as an opportunity to consider whether the Election Clause limits what state courts can do.

“We will have to resolve this question sooner or later, and the sooner we do so, the better,” Alito wrote in a dissent joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas.

In a separate dissent, Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed with the conservative minority on the court in part, but added, “It is too late for the federal courts to order that the district lines be changed for the 2022 primary and general elections.”

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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