Allison Riggs makes strong showing at Supreme Court

And she didn't take any crap from Brett Kavanaugh:

Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed to agree that the problem of partisan gerrymandering is one that should be left for the political branches of government to deal with. Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed this concern. He told Allison Riggs, who argued for a second group of challengers in the North Carolina case, that he understood “some of your argument to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a problem for democracy.” Referring to activity in the states and in Congress to combat partisan gerrymandering, Kavanaugh asked whether we have reached a moment when the other actors can do it.

Riggs responded that North Carolina, at least, is not at that moment. When Kavanaugh responded, “I’m thinking more nationally,” Riggs shot back that “other options don’t relieve this Court of its duty to vindicate constitutional rights.”

And of course she's right. What Kavanaugh doesn't grasp (or is ignoring) is the fact that some of those states allow popular movements to amend their constitutions without prior approval by the Legislative body. Like they did in Michigan, where proponents had to collect enough signatures to get independent redistricting on the November ballot. North Carolina doesn't allow for that, making Kavanaugh's argument both inappropriate and irrelevant. Also inappropriate:

Justice Stephen Breyer searched out loud for a formula that would capture what he characterized as the “real outliers.” He proposed a standard that would bar challenges to districting maps created by independent redistricting commissions, but that would deem a map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander if a party wins a majority of the statewide vote but the other party wins more than two-thirds of the available seats.

Of course that would be unconstitutional (as hell), but it's also an election unicorn. And a fantasy creature specifically tailored to North Carolina, where the Republicans received a slight majority of the total votes. If we implemented Breyer's approach, Republicans could (theoretically) give themselves 12 out of NC's 13 seats, as long as they squeaked past the total vote 50% threshold.

But these observations by Roberts are (to me) the most worrisome, because he's now the swing vote:

Chief Justice John Roberts also seemed to suggest at one point that the political process could take care of partisan gerrymandering. Partisan identification, he told Bondurant, is not the only thing on which people base their votes. A vote may hinge on a specific candidate, or who is at the top of a ticket, Roberts observed. When Bondurant pushed back with references to findings by social science experts, Roberts countered that “a lot of predictions turn out to be wrong.” In the 2018 election, for example, a “lot of things that were never supposed to happen, happened.”

Reading between the lines: Donald Trump never should have been elected, but he was. Meaning, Chief Justice Roberts believes that voters could fix their own gerrymandering problems if really wanted to.

I still hold out hope that Roberts will do the right thing, but that hope has been seriously diminished.

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