U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Partisan Gerrymandering Challenges

Speakers outside Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering rally
CLC's Paul Smith speaks to reporters outside of the Supreme Court following arguments for gerrymandering case Gill v. Whitford.

On January 4, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments in a challenge to North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map, which is one of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders in American history. The case has the potential to reshape future redistricting nationwide by limiting politicians’ ability to discriminate against voters who favor a minority party when those politicians draw electoral districts. 

Campaign Legal Center (CLC), the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and University of Chicago Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and 12 individual North Carolina plaintiffs in the case, Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North CarolinaThe Supreme Court will simultaneously hear a companion case, Common Cause v. Rucho, and it will hear the Maryland case, Benisek v. Lamone this term.

Both Republicans and Democrats have participated in gerrymandering – rigging the system by drawing lines to maximize their own party’s advantage and limit Americans’ ability to freely choose their representative through voting.

Why I Want the Supreme Court to Finally Put an End to Gerrymandering


If the Supreme Court rules that the state’s maps are unconstitutional, this victory could curtail the undemocratic practice of partisan gerrymandering nationwide. Last term, CLC’s Paul Smith argued Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to Wisconsin’s gerrymandered Assembly maps. The Supreme Court sent both the North Carolina and Wisconsin cases back to district court with clear instructions. 

Voters nationwide are ready for a ruling from the Supreme Court that finally declares that they come first, not self-interested politicians. A supermajority of Americans – across ideological lines – want the Supreme Court to place limits on partisan gerrymandering.

In 2018 we saw voters fed up with legislators choosing their voters pass Independent Redistricting Commission reforms in Michigan, Missouri, Utah, Ohio, and Colorado. The initiatives will help citizens in those states choose their representatives instead of the other way around. BUT only in those states.

By striking down North Carolina’s maps, the Supreme Court can send a message to the rest of the country that extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court fails to set limits on this undemocratic practice, states will continue to see a festival of copycat gerrymandering in 2020.