At least four Republican states plan to use congressional maps deemed illegal by courts in the upcoming midterm elections, The New York Times reports.
Judges in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio have ruled Republican-drawn maps illegal because they gerrymandered districts based on race or partisanship. All four states are still planning to use their illegally-drawn maps in the upcoming elections.
While courts in the past have forced mapmakers to redraw borders, the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in cases and new strategies by Republicans to run out the clock have changed the political landscape.
“We’re seeing a revolution in courts’ willingness to allow elections to go forward under illegal or unconstitutional rules,” Richard Hasen, a professor at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, told the Times. “And that’s creating a situation in which states are getting one free illegal election before they have to change their rules.”
The illegal maps give Republicans a big advantage in the four states, which make up nearly 10% of the seats in the House.
The rejected maps alone are likely to give the GOP five to seven House seats they otherwise would not have won, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report told the Times.
The main reason that states will be allowed to use illegal maps is the Supreme Court’s embrace of the so-called Purcell principle, which states that judges should not order changes to an election too close to Election Day.
The Supreme Court has increasingly issued orders blocking lower court decisions ordering maps to be redrawn.
“It just so happens that the unexplained rules in election cases have a remarkable tendency to save Republicans and hurt Democrats,” University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck told the Times.
“It would be one thing if the court was giving us a compelling or even plausible explanation,” he added. “But the granting of a stay these days is often done with no explanation at all.”