Opponents of partisan gerrymandering have scored a series of legal victories in recent weeks as courts rule in favor of reforms aimed at making congressional elections more competitive. On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Republican-led legislature violated the state constitution when it drew congressional district lines that intentionally favored one party. That decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that an independent redistricting commission in Arizona did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Also in June, a three-member panel of federal judges ordered Virginia’s General Assembly to redraw some congressional district lines after finding legislators packed too many African-American voters into Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D) district.
That three-judge panel cited another U.S. Supreme Court ruling, from March, that found Alabama’s legislature also improperly considered race when drawing new state legislative district lines, diluting their influence.
Taken together, the four cases have given proponents of redistricting reform several legal pathways to follow. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Arizona case offered a stamp of approval to independent commissions in other states, like California, Idaho and Washington. Reformers in several others have proposed ballot measures to establish independent redistricting commissions; Virginia and Maryland are both studying the prospects of their own commissions.