SCOTUS Sends Wisconsin Redistricting Case Back to Lower Court

Great news. It seems that the court has set an almost insurmountable standard for plaintiffs to prove injury.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the plaintiffs lack standing in Wisconsin’s nationally watched gerrymandering case — but in an unusual move, it agreed to send the case back to a lower court for further argument.

The unanimous decision in the case, known as Gill v. Whitford, does not resolve a challenge to the legislative maps the Republican-controlled Legislature drew under tightly controlled secrecy in 2011.

But it does end the plaintiffs’ hopes that a judge could order Wisconsin’s legislative boundaries to be redrawn in time for the 2018 elections. Federal judges ordered that last year after ruling the maps were unconstitutional.

In a separate unsigned opinion, the court also did not side with Maryland Republicans who challenged a single congressional district on partisan grounds. Another case involving challenges to North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts may address some of the standing issues in Wisconsin.

In the Wisconsin case, the court said the plaintiffs, a group of registered Democrats, failed to demonstrate they had a personal stake in the outcome.

“It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “But this Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it.”

But rather than dismiss the case entirely, the court ruled 7-2 to send the decision back to the district court “so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence — unlike the bulk of the evidence presented thus far — that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes.”