The summer humidity wasn’t the only thing causing folks to sweat in D.C. this month, as we anxiously awaited—and continued to fight—some important court decisions. Here’s your recap of a few things we had our hands in this month:
Supreme Court Punts on Gerrymandering
Thursday, on their last decision day of the term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina that no fair test exists for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far.
This decision is a disappointment, and the Court missed a crucial opportunity to strengthen our republic. But, while this decision is a setback in the fight for fair maps around the country, the fight is far from over. We must redouble our efforts outside the courtroom to put the voices of voters first. Independent citizen-led commissions have been highly successful in ensuring that district maps fairly represent the population.
While some states are taking a proactive approach to gerrymandering with ballot measures, a wider solution exists in Congress. The For the People Act would create fair redistricting standards for the entire country. Take action by reaching out to your member of Congress and demanding a hearing on this vital legislation.
Census Citizenship Question Rejected
Another important case was decided upon by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, Department of Commerce v. New York, challenging the attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship question cannot proceed for 2020, rejecting the notion that the purpose of a citizenship question was to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
The suggestion of a citizenship question in the census was a scare tactic designed to decrease participation among non-English speaking and immigrant communities. And, while we celebrate the Court’s ruling and are relieved that the question will not appear in the census questionnaire, damage has already been done by instilling fear in the public. Now, it’s vital we double our efforts to ensure the most complete possible census count, with a focus on hard-to-count communities.
Add your name and tell lawmakers in your state to make sure the 2020 Census is conducted fairly and fully funded.
SCOTUS Limits Political Interest in Redistricting Cases
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill affirming the lower courts decision that the Virginia legislature lacks standing to appeal in its own right. The court ruled earlier this year that the maps in question were a racial gerrymander and required new maps be used in the recent June elections.
By disallowing legislators from bringing lawsuits to protect their own political interests, this decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for voters and ensures that every ballot matters in Virginia.
D.C.—the 51st State?
Taxation without representation is still a very real phenomenon in the United States today.
District of Columbia residents have neither representation in Congress, nor freedom to govern themselves without interference from Congress. It’s time for the more than 650,000 residents of our nation’s capital to be fully enfranchised.
This month we filed an amicus brief along with partner civil rights groups in the D.C. voting rights case Castanon v. United States. The case, filed in federal district court in D.C., is a complaint by D.C. residents that they have been denied the full voting rights and political equity guaranteed to them by the Constitution.
This case aims to safeguard the rights of D.C. residents who, since 1801, have had no representation in Congress and no freedom to govern themselves without interference from Congress.