Gerrymandering Opponents Vow To Continue Fight Following Supreme Court Decision

Jul 3, 2019

This cartoon of the first known gerrymander was published in the Boston Gazette in 1812. It depicts several counties of northeastern Massachusetts grouped into a salamander-shaped voting district. Governor Elbridge Gerry signed the law approving the voting districts, leading one reporter to dub the district a "Gerry-mander."
Credit Internet Archive Book / Flickr

A majority of the Supreme Court of the United States decided that it was not the court’s responsibility to overturn voting districts drawn with the intent of advantaging one party or another. Partisan redistricting, gerrymandering as its commonly known, has been a feature of American politics practically since the founding of the country.

The non-partisan, pro-democracy group Common Cause has been leading a national fight against partisan redistricting, including with a U.S. Supreme Court case. Rucho v. Common Cause consolidated two legal challenges, one in North Carolina and another from Maryland, which argued that voting districts drawn by political partisans disadvantaged voters.

Although the high court ultimately decided to allow gerrymandering to continue, it did leave open the option of restricting the practice at the state level.

Kathay Feng, the National Redistricting Director for Common Cause, said both Democrats and Republicans have engaged in gerrymandering across the country. Feng views the practice as an existential threat to American democracy and led an effort to eliminate it in California.

Kathay joined Hawaii Public Radio’s The Conversation to discuss the history of partisan redistricting and how its opponents are regrouping after a disappointing ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hear the full interview with Kathay Feng: