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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Supreme Court stands up to Gerrymandering but Black Justice Clarence Thomas and right wing Antonin Scalia go apoplectic

Supreme Court nixes redistricting or gerrmandering that packed in black voters. A divided court revives challenge over Alabama redistricting.  Sadly, it's a shame Justice Clarence Thomas couldn't, just once, stand for principle on this ruling. Instead, in my opinion, Thomas wrote a dissent that micro-managed the districting process, claiming the plan was a racial quota.  Hello?  Dear Justice Thomas, have you considered how the Republican re-districting plan was a racial quota in reverse? Republican districts are gerrymandered quotas whereby Democrats are deliberately marginalized.

Obviously, I'm not an expert on voting rights laws or "districting". Nevertheless, I observe how Republicans are obsessed about creating voting districts that minimize minority groups into sort of "voting ghettos". 

My impression is that Republicans draw district boundaries whereby the voters will elect and re-elect Republican candidates, regardless of who the Democratic opponents are, because the majority of voters are Republicans.  

Supposedly, the assumption is that Republicans will never live in communities where minority groups reside so the district lines are drawn to protect the white voting districts.

Challengers who accused Alabama officials of unlawfully using race to craft political boundaries will get another chance to argue against the new districts. 

A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sent the case back for further review, finding lower court judges made a series of legal errors. But Black justice Clarence Thomas and right wing Antonin Scalia are reported to be "apoplectic" over the divided 5 to 4 ruling.

Those errors included considering the state as a whole instead of conducting a district-by-district analysis to determine whether district lines were impermissibly drawn based on race, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the 5-4 decision. The district court also incorrectly balanced racial-versus-nonracial factors in deciding whether race was the “predominant motivating factor” during the redistricting process, the majority held.

“For example, once the legislature’s ‘equal population’ objectives are put to the side—i.e., seen as a background principle—then there is strong, perhaps overwhelming, evidence that race did predominate as a factor when the legislature drew the boundaries of Senate District 26, the one district that the parties have discussed here in depth,” Breyer wrote.

Breyer was joined by justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, writing that the majority disregarded the district court’s findings that the challengers never pleaded, let alone proved, district-specific claims of racial gerrymandering with respect to majority-minority districts. The majority’s opinion allowed the challengers “to take a mulligan,” Scalia wrote, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr.

“Today, the court issues a sweeping holding that will have profound implications for the constitutional ideal of one person, one vote, for the future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and for the primacy of the state in managing its own elections,” Scalia wrote. “If the court’s destination seems fantastical, just wait until you see the journey.”

Thomas also wrote a dissenting opinion.

“I do not pretend that Alabama is blameless when it comes to its sordid history of racial politics,” Thomas said. “But, today the state is not the one that is culpable. Its redistricting effort was indeed tainted, but it was tainted by our voting rights jurisprudence and the uses to which the Voting Rights Act has been put.”

In Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama and Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, the challengers had argued that the Republican-led Legislature packed black voters into districts in which minority voters already comprised a majority to make other districts more white and Republican following the last census.
Read more:

USA Today Reports how the Court nixed the redistricting that packed in black voters in Alabama by Richard Wolf

WASHINGTON - A deeply divided Supreme Court dealt a blow to a Republican redistricting plan in Alabama on Wednesday, that packed black voters into urban districts to dilute their impact elsewhere.  By a 5-4 vote and over the vigorous objection of its lone black member (Justice Thomas) the court upheld the objections raised by Democratic and black lawmakers and sent the case back for further review by a lower court.

The decision represents a legal reversal from earlier decades, when the federal government forced mostly Southern states to create "majority-minority" districts more likely to elect black lawmakers. Now, the justices are saying it may be illegal to have too many blacks clustered in one district at the expense of others. 

Although I'm not an expert on voting rights or gerrymandering, my opinion of Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia aren't helped by their "apoplectic" response to the 5 to 4 Supreme Court ruling. It seems to me, both  of these justices have out served their ability to be objective.  In modern Supreme Court deliberations these two justices have become caricatures of right wing conservatism. They've lost their credibility. Nonetheless, these justices are two votes Americans must contend with until another president has the opportunity to appoint more reasonable replacements.

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