One of the many baffling things about American democracy is the lack of consensus in favour of an independent electoral boundaries commission. So, inevitably, we see cases like this:
A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s congressional map on Tuesday, condemning it as unconstitutional because Republicans had drawn the map seeking a political advantage.
The ruling was the first time that a federal court had blocked a congressional map because of a partisan gerrymander, and it instantly endangered Republican seats in the coming elections.
Judge James A. Wynn Jr., in a biting 191-page opinion, said that Republicans in North Carolina’s Legislature had been “motivated by invidious partisan intent” as they carried out their obligation in 2016 to divide the state into 13 congressional districts, 10 of which are held by Republicans. The result, Judge Wynn wrote, violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.
Of course, it is far from certain the US Supreme Court will agree that partisan boundaries are unacceptable. For more on the upcoming legal fight over partisan gerrymandering, see Amicus, More Perfect, and especially FiveThirtyEight’s The Gerrymandering Project series background, and SCOTUSblog for detailed coverage of the pending decision in Gill v Whitford.