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The Bad and the Not-as-Bad From Today’s Supreme Court Rulings

Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not look like she approves of any of this.

The Supreme Court issued a number of rulings today, the last day of its current term. Some were much worse than others.

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First up: gerrymandering. The court ruled 5-4 along typical party lines that partisan gerrymandering is “beyond the reach of the federal courts” and has to be left up to individual states. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan called the decision “tragically wrong.”

“Of all the times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one,” she wrote.

Gerrymandering is the dissection of voting districts in a way that manipulates the outcomes of elections by artificially stacking them in favor of one party. It’s not like Democrats have never used gerrymandering to their favor but it has become a major a Republican tactic. So it’s unsurprising to see five Republican-appointed justices vote against the possibility of federal reform.

Gerrymandering is how (along with other voter suppression tactics) Wisconsin Democrats won a majority of votes in 2018 but Republicans kept their House majority. It’s why the majority of people, even in red states, support keeping abortion legal but anti-choice lawmakers remain in office.

Voting districts are redrawn every ten years after the census, so we’re coming up on another redrawing and the Supreme Court basically just gave the green light to Republicans to go wild. By leaving the issue up to state courts, it’s handing those decisions to judges who were often appointed by Republicans in order to maintain the GOP’s power. This is a good reminder to make sure you vote in 2020, not just in the presidential race, but in your senate and congressional races, too.

Speaking of the census, SCOTUS handed down another ruling today, rejecting Trump’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the survey, at least for now.

Research has long shown that questions about citizenship lead to immigrants and those in homes with immigrants to not filling out the survey. And the court noted that the reasoning behind wanting the question added “appears to have been contrived” and that “accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise.” That blocks the question for now, but does seem to leave room for the administration to simply come up with a better answer.

Trump didn’t take the news well. He threw a mini-fit on Twitter (as is his wont), threatening to delay the census entirely (which would give time to change that story, since census forms need to be printed soon).

There was one other ruling today as well and it was this extremely cool and normal thing:

See you in October, SCOTUS!

(image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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