Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE DENOUNCES THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION IN RUCHO V. COMMON CAUSE AND CALLS ON STATES TO IMPLEMENT PROTOCOLS TO PROTECT AGAINST POLITICAL GERRYMANDERING

Jun 27, 2019
Press Release

 

For Immediate Release                                                                 Contact: Robin Chand

June 27, 2019                                                                                  (202) 225–3816

 

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Denounces the Supreme Court’s Decision in Rucho v. Common Cause and Calls on States to Implement Protocols to Protect Against Political Gerrymandering

Jackson Lee: “I could not agree more with the estimable Justice Kagan, an appointee of President Barack Obama who distills the argument against the practice of political gerrymandering succinctly: “[partisan gerrymandering] debas[es] and dishonor[s] our democracy, turning upside down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.  I could not agree more with the estimable Justice Kagan, an appointee of President Barack Obama.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and a senior member of the Helsinki Commission, issued this statement following the Supreme Court’s decision in Rucho v. Common Cause, considering whether political gerrymandering violates our constitution:

“Earlier today, the Supreme Court decided Rucho v. Common Cause, the case raising the issue of whether political gerrymandering of legislative districts is constitutionally permissible.  The Supreme Court refused to decide the question.  This sanctions the practice of some states in drawing districts for the purpose of maximizing the political power of favored groups and diluting the power of disfavored groups, which in nearly every case involved communities of color.  The court ruled that political gerrymandering presents a “political question.”  The Court is wrong and its logic is circular.  As Justice Kagan wrote in dissent, “[f]or the first time ever, the Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”

“Indeed, the practical effects of this ruling are telling, for it can be wielded as a sword and a shield.  It means that states with deeply problematic histories of voter disenfranchisement can continue to draw districts that dilute the vote of its citizens.  And, it means that a state—when confronted with credible claims that it engaged in racial gerrymandering—can simply inoculate itself against such assertions by claiming it is merely trafficking in political gerrymandering.  This is wrong, and strikes at the core of our system of government.  Indeed, the opinion of the Court does not dispute the arguments set forth by Justice Kagan.  It concedes “that gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles.” I could not agree more with the estimable Justice Kagan, an appointee of President Barack Obama who distills the argument against the practice of political gerrymandering succinctly: “[partisan gerrymandering] debas[es] and dishonor[s] our democracy, turning upside down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

“Today’s opinion makes clear that the Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility to be the arbiter of fairness in our elections.  For the rest of us—for those who care that all votes should be counted and all voices heard—our charge is clear: we must mobilize for all elections—federal, state and local.  We must harness our political power so that we can effectuate change to ensure that districts are drawn fairly and the voices of all heard, knowing that the Court today ceded part of its authority to do so.”

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District of Texas, is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security and the Budget.