Skip to content
CityLab
Maplab

MapLab: Where the Fight Against Gerrymandering Heads Now

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.
Activists at the Supreme Court opposed to partisan gerrymandering hold up representations of congressional districts from North Carolina and Maryland.
Activists at the Supreme Court opposed to partisan gerrymandering hold up representations of congressional districts from North Carolina and Maryland.Carolyn Kaster/AP

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that constitutional lawsuits over partisan gerrymandering “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.” Now, voters who sue legislatures over district lines that are drawn to a particular party’s advantage cannot appeal to a higher level of government to get partisan maps blocked.

The 5-4 decision has been heralded as a victory for Republicans, the party in control of most U.S. statehouses. And it positions them to grow that power in the future, as Republicans can gerrymander electoral maps yet more aggressively in their favor after next year’s census. So, too, can Democrats in the states where they dominate, carving the U.S. into a “jigsaw of disunity,” to borrow one journalist’s turn of phrase. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote: “Of all the times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one.”