ALEXANDRIA, VA (August 7, 2017) — A federal court in Wisconsin, in striking down a state redistricting plan, upset the existing constitutional balance between the federal government and the states, the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) argued in a brief submitted on Friday (Aug. 4) to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments, had found that the Republican-authored districting had the effect of disadvantaging Democrats despite meeting all other state redistricting criteria. Unlike the exceptional circumstances in the battle against racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act, the ACRU brief argues that allowing a federal cause of action under the First and Fourteenth Amendments for partisan gerrymandering attacks the constitutional balance. The ruling dramatically overstepped the Article I, Section 4 constitutional assignment of responsibilities between the states and Congress for holding elections.
In Gill v. Whitford, the ACRU brief argues that, “The panel based its admittedly novel conclusion not on a finding of discrimination abhorrent to deeply rooted constitutional principles [combating racial discrimination] but on its finding that the drafters of the plan intended “to entrench the Republican Party in power.”
“Such a finding, built on a shaky foundation, at best, upsets the delicate balance of power agreed upon in 1787 and should be reversed.”
“The panel’s departure from federalist principles cannot be reconciled with this Court’s recent reaffirmance [in Shelby County v. Holder] of the original constitutional arrangement which gave states the general power to manage their own elections subject to explicit and well defined exceptions.”
The brief, which was filed on behalf of the ACRU by J. Christian Adams and Kaylan L. Phillips of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, cited Chapman v. Meier (1975), in which the Court stated: “We say once again what has been said on many occasions: reapportionment is primarily the duty and responsibility of the State through its legislature or other body, rather than of a federal court.”
ACRU is concerned with protecting the sanctity and integrity of American elections and preserving the constitutional balance of state control over their own elections.
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