The closely watched Supreme Court cases were expected to determine if the judicial branch will take action on redistricting. But as explained in an article posted by election expert Nicholas Stephanopoulos on Election Law Blog, lower courts have been making their opinions on the issue known:
Last week, a three-judge district court unanimously held that twenty-seven Michigan state house, state senate, and congressional districts are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. The consequences of the decision are important. If it’s upheld, Michigan will have fair district maps in 2020 for the first time in two decades. Just as striking as the decision’s effects, though, is the familiarity of its reasoning. In almost every respect, the decision echoes earlier court rulings striking down districts in Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The decision is thus further proof that, while the Supreme Court continues to debate the issue, the lower courts have found a way to identify—and invalidate—extreme gerrymanders.
Take the “three-part framework” endorsed by the Michigan court, which requires showings of “(1) discriminatory partisan intent, (2) discriminatory partisan effects, and (3) causation and/or a lack of justification.” This is the same test adopted by three previous federal courts. As the Michigan court noted (quoting an earlier opinion by an Ohio court), “federal courts have ‘converged considerably on common ground in establishing standards for determining whether a partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional.’”
Read the full report here. Nicholas Stephanopoulos is a Professor of Law and Herbert and Marjorie Fried Research Scholar at the prestigious University of Chicago Law School. According to his bio there, “Stephanopoulos’s research and teaching interests include election law, constitutional law, legislation, administrative law, comparative law, and local government law”.