Democrats face new hurdles in legal fight over redistricting
The fight over redrawing political maps is just ramping up in state legislatures and nonpartisan commissions around the country. But both Republicans and Democrats already are planning for major showdowns in the courts.
For months, Democrats and Republicans have been laying the groundwork for a complex, 50-state legal battle over the oncea-decade process of redistricting. Both parties are preparing for a changed legal climate - where federal courts are newly hostile to claims of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering and state courts could create a patchwork of rulings. And it will all play out in a tightened timeframe, thanks to pandemic-related delays.
Experts say that adds up a challenging landscape for Democrats, who have in the past won major court victories by proving Republicans deliberately used maps to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Some are predicting far fewer dramatic court interventions, despite plans for a more aggressive strategy.
“There will be a lot of litigation, but in a lot of ways the tools will be less sharp than they used to be,” said Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Social Justice in New York City.
Democrats began filing preemptive lawsuits in April, well ahead of last week’s release of the Census’ detailed population data used to draw the lines for Congress, statehouses and school districts around the country. Still, the most significant lawsuits are yet to come, and probably won’t be filed until states begin to produce maps over the next few months.