June 29, 2019 — Washington, D.C. —
The Supreme Court recently issued two rulings with one dealing a huge blow to eliminating gerrymandering, or the drawing of congressional districts for partisan gain. The 5-4 decision may encourage state lawmakers to continue to carve out districts based upon political affiliations when they begin the next stage of redistricting after the 2020 census is completed.
“We view the decision handed down by the high court as wrongheaded and an outright attempt to eliminate the voices of communities of color and immigrants in having a say in who should represent them.” said Gilda Cobb-Hunter, President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). “A green light has been given to state Legislators to continue their practice of packing black and brown people to draw electoral districts solely for the benefit of partisan politics. This is wrong and must be corrected, otherwise our political system will be compromised for decades enabling one party to control redistricting.”
Individuals who support limiting partisan gerrymandering can still pursue options in state courts such as the lawsuit pending in North Carolina.
In the Court’s second ruling the Justices rejected the Commerce Department’s request to add a citizenship question and sent it back to a lower court. This action reaffirmed NBCSL’s position that the question would discourage African Americans, immigrants and other people of color from participating in the Census.
“We are very pleased that the High Court ruled against adding a citizenship question to the Census Form,” said Cobb – Hunter. “Over $600 billion dollars in funding for local jurisdictions that will be allocated for school lunch, special education grants, health care centers, Medicaid, highway planning and construction, and other programs is at stake. NBCSL members are already encouraging all of their constituents to participate in the 2020 Census stressing the importance of being counted and explaining the benefits derived from participating in the process,” she added.