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SCOTUS, for Now, Largely Chooses to Punt on Partisan Gerrymandering


Political junkies and constitutional law professors coast to coast have been waiting with bated breath for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to issue a pair of rulings this term that could – certain observers have maintained – profoundly affect future congressional and state legislative redistricting.


“The American Republic has been around for 229 years. And for nearly every one of them, we’ve managed to survive the claimed practice of partisan gerrymandering – some of it quite egregious,” asserts Brian S. Paszamant, a member of Blank Rome’s Commercial Litigation practice group in Philadelphia. Paszamant has litigated a number of cases in what has become the ground zero of districting battles, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“What SCOTUS did this week was confirm two basic principles. First, a plaintiff claiming that his or her vote was diluted must present evidence that this occurred with regard to his or her specific district. Second, a plaintiff claiming that she or he was injured by partisan gerrymandering must act reasonably promptly to secure relief from the challenged conduct.”

“What the Court did not do, as many expected, or perhaps even hoped, was to specifically decide whether partisan gerrymandering claims are currently even justiciable and, if so, articulate the test(s) under which such claims will be assessed. SCOTUS has, to date, been loath to establish a ‘governing test’ for partisan gerrymandering claims. Indeed, its jurisprudence has not recognized a viable partisan gerrymandering claim in more than 30 years,” Paszamant notes.

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"SCOTUS, for Now, Largely Chooses to Punt on Partisan Gerrymandering," by Richard Levick was published in Forbes on June 19, 2018.