Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said Thursday activists protesting partisan gerrymandering should “carry on the efforts,” stressing her strong dissent with the majority’s ruling last month that courts shouldn’t police the practice, and instead leave it to the states and lawmakers.
Justice Kagan, while speaking at Georgetown University Law Center, said she didn’t pull punches in her dissent, which the other three Democratic-appointed justices joined.
“There’s no part of me that is ever going to become accepting of the decision made,” Justice Kagan, an Obama-appointee, said.
“For all those people out there who in some way can carry on the efforts against this kind of undermining of democracy, go for it because you’re right and for the future, maybe the court will change it’ mind on this one,” she added.
The 5-4 ruling was a blow to voting rights activists who wanted the court to create a standard for determining how many GOP and Democratic voters could be added or subtracted from various congressional districts when lawmakers draw electoral maps.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., wrote the majority opinion which was joined by the other four Republican appointees, saying the line drawing is a political question that goes beyond the reach of the federal judiciary.
“Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions,” he wrote.
Justice Kagan’s dissent warned of severe damage to democracy if legislators keep drawing maps that are virtually certain to pick which political party wins or loses.
“If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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