State courts are expected to play an outsized role in drawing new congressional maps in states that have stalled on redistricting, Politico reports.
State judges have already intervened to assist with redistricting commissions in Virginia and Washington after they missed deadlines following a lengthy census data delay. But state Supreme Courts may ultimately determine the new maps in states like Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, where Democratic governors are set to veto aggressive gerrymanders by Republican-led state legislatures. These courts could determine the boundaries for more than 40 House seats.
Courts are also likely to have a say over the maps in states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, where Democrats have filed or plan to file legal challenges to Republican-drawn maps.
Democrats previously successfully challenges some state maps in federal court but the Supreme Court effectively allowed partisan gerrymandering, limiting federal challenges to only racial gerrymanders.
NC court delays primaries:
The North Carolina Supreme Court already took the unusual step of halting the candidate filing period and delaying next year’s primaries as it considers whether Republicans illegally manipulated a new map that would restrict Democrats to just three of the state’s 14 districts.
"We have a great precedent in North Carolina — why I'm confident of victory there," former Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, told Politico.
"State supreme courts are extremely important, especially given the way in which the conservative majority in the United States Supreme Court has tried to pull the federal court system out of questions concerning partisan gerrymandering,” he said.
Wisconsin court to oversee maps:
The conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court will also oversee the redistricting in the state after Gov. Tony Evers blocked the Republican-drawn map.
"It's going to be a state that Biden carried, and there will be a two-thirds Republican majority in the Assembly and the Senate," Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind told Politico. "You can only do that by overt gerrymandering."
The conservative-leaning Ohio Supreme Court and the right-leaning Florida Supreme Court are also likely to have a major say over their state’s aggressive Republican maps.
On the other hand, the Republican-drawn Pennsylvania map is set to be reviewed by a left-leaning Supreme Court, which threw out a Republican gerrymander in 2018, shifting the congressional delegation from a 13-5 Republican majority to an even split.