Supreme Court dismisses partisan-gerrymandering case for lack of jurisdiction

Supreme Court dismisses partisan-gerrymandering case for lack of jurisdiction

Supreme Court dismissed Texas Democratic Party v. Abbott [PDF] today, claiming want of jurisdiction. This dismissal may seem surprising, given that the Court has chosen to hear other gerrymandering cases this term.

This past October the Supreme Court heard Gill v. Whitford, a redistricting action challenging a gerrymander claim in Wisconsin. In addition, two consolidated cases [JURIST report] have been added to the merits docket late last week.

The second case, Abbott v. Perez, involves a claim under the Equal Protection Clause. The Appeals Court sided with voting groups holding that the republican legislature drew district lines in a way that was discriminatory against voters of color, with tendencies to vote democrat.

Following the appeal by the Texas Democratic Party, Greg Abbott, in his official capacity as Governor of Texas, filed a motion to dismiss claiming that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over an appeal of an interlocutory order filed over three years ago. In addition, Abbott claims the district court’s decision to dismiss the case should be affirmed because of appellants lack of reliable standard for claims.

Though courts may continue to find lack of justiciability based on the inherent political nature of gerrymandering itself and lack of judicial standard, the Texas Democratic Party, filed a response supporting their jurisdictional argument. They argued that in light of Whitford and Perez, the Court should find a judicially manageable standard.

Regardless of the procedural complications that may have contributed to the case’s denial, the Supreme Court is in a position to potentially change interpretation for electoral redistricting.