Supremacy Clause: Standing Gerrymandering

July 12th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

Gill v. Whitford, 585 U.S. ___ (2018); Benisek v. Lamone, 585 U.S. ___ (2018).   U.S. Supreme Court has found that gerrymandering case must be brought by those with standing.  That was the holding in Gill.  In Benisek, the court found a lack of grounds for an emergency injunction.  In Gill, the plaintiffs were supporters of the public policies espoused by the Democratic Party and of Democratic Party candidates.  The court kicked the can down the road in both cases but spoke specifically in Gill about the standing issue.  Some of the standing principles articulated is that the harm asserted by plaintiffs is best understood as arising from a burden on the plaintiff’s own votes.  In this gerrymandering context, that burden arises through a voter’s placement in a “cracked” or “packed” district.  The plaintiffs failed to meaningfully pursue their allegations of individual harm.  The plaintiffs did not seek to show requisite harm on the record.  It appears that not a single plaintiff sought to prove that he or she lived in a cracked or packed district.  Instead, they rested their theory on statewide theory to Wisconsin Democrats.  This is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights.  The court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences.  The courts constitutionally prescribe specifics to vindicate the original rights of the people appearing before it.