The U.S. Supreme Court’s docket is crowded with voter redistricting disputes this term. The high court already heard a procedural redistricting dispute, Shapiro v. McManus, U.S., No. 14-990, argued, 11/4/15 (84 U.S.L.W. 615, 11/10/15), and the justices recently agreed to take a look at a racial gerrymandering challenge to Virginia’s latest voter map in Wittman v. Personhuballah, U.S., No. 14-1504, review granted, 11/13/15 (84 U.S.L.W. 663, 11/17/15). But on Dec. 8, the one-person, one-vote principle will take center stage at the high court in two separate redistricting cases: Evenwel v. Abbott, U.S., No. 14-940, oral argument scheduled, 12/8/15, and Harris v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, U.S., No. 14-232, oral argument scheduled, 12/8/15. Where the justices ultimately land in these cases could have a national impact. The dispute in Evenwel—possibly the most consequential of the two one-person, one-vote challenges—centers on whether the one-person, one-vote principle announced in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), protects all persons, or just eligible voters.
At a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday about procedures in redistricting cases, the justices appeared to be trying to reconcile two conflicting impulses. They did not want to close the door entirely on challenges to gerrymandering, but they also did not want to be required to rule on them. Though the court has never rejected a voting district on the ground that it gave a political party an unconstitutional advantage, it has never ruled out that such a district might exist. On Wednesday, the court seemed inclined to endorse procedures that would at least treat such claims seriously by sending them to special three-judge courts created by a federal law for redistricting cases. But as the argument drew to a close, several justices voiced a competing concern — the law also allows direct appeals to the Supreme Court from rulings of the three-judge courts, meaning more work and less discretion for the justices.
Maryland: Supreme Court to Rule on Arcane Election Law Issue With Importance for Redistricting Cases | Election Law
Election law continues to be an important topic in national news. Indeed, every year the U.S. Supreme Court decides a few election law cases. This year is no exception. This term, the Supreme Court will decide Shapiro v. McManus and Evenwel v. Abbott. This post will discuss Shapiro. Shapiro v. McManus, which the Court is hearing arguments in tomorrow, concerns a group of Maryland citizens who sued the Chair of the Maryland State Board of Elections and its Administrator, arguing that a 2011 redistricting plan was, in fact, a partisan gerrymander. A partisan gerrymander occurs when the line drawers manipulate an electoral district’s boundaries to favor a certain political party—typically the majority party in power who is drawing the lines. After the case was filed, the defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defense which asserts that the plaintiff failed to state a valid legal claim. The case, which was reviewed by one district judge, was dismissed, with the judge holding that the complaint did not sufficiently assert the presence of misconduct in the line-drawing process. The court analyzed the complaint under a standard set forth in two recent Supreme Court cases, Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal which in essence require a claim to be “plausible” to survive this preliminary stage of litigation The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.