Friday, June 28, 2019

It matters who governs and it matters who appoints Supreme Court justices.

by Rod Williams - It really matters who governs and it matters who appoints Supreme Court justices.  Yesterday the Court ruled five to four that it was not up to the Court to draw political boundaries for congressional districts but up to state legislators.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberst said, "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions."

It is refreshing to have a court that recognizes some questions are "political questions" not to be decided from the bench and that even judges are limited by "authority in the Constitution."  This would have been decided the other way if not for the appointment of Neil Gorsuch.

Unfortunately, the other decision handed down yesterday did not favor Republicans. The Court blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The Court did not permanently block the inclusion of the citizenship question but delayed it.  If the administration can delay the census, it still may be able to meet the Court's requirements for including it.

While I have not delved deeply into the courts opinion on the census issue, my initial thoughts are that  the court wrongly decided the case. Given the intrusive nosy nature of the census, asking one's citizenship status seems not that offensive and seems rational. It seems like the government should know how many citizens are in America.  If the census can ask you your race and ethnicity it seems like it should be allowed to ask you your citizenship status. The question was part of the census as recent as 1950. The argument against asking it is that asking the questions would result in illegal immigrants not answering the census and thus being undercounted in the census. The census is used for the allocation of congressional seats and to allocate federal funds to the States and if illegal immigrants did not answer the census then states with large number of illegals, such as Texas and California, would be allocated fewer representatives and receive fewer federal dollars.

While I am disappointing the census questions did not go our way, I am pleased that the ruling did not just outright ban asking the question which would have happened with a more liberal court and I am very pleased with the gerrymandering decision. If we can get one more conservative justice on the Court, our Democracy will be assured for decades to come.

Surprising no one, Tennessee Democrats criticized and  Republicans praised the Supreme Court ruling regarding gerrymandering. Congressman Jim Cooper called it "shortsighted and dangerous for our country."  Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said the Supreme Court decision "was the constitutionally correct" one. "District lines should be drawn by elected officials who are held accountable by the people they represent, not appointed federal judges or un-elected bureaucrats," he said.

For more on this topic see link,  link link, link.

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