Supreme Court adopts position of Graves Garrett client in gerrymandering case; Greim, Luetkemeyer author op-ed on rulings for USA TodayRoss Martin
The United States Supreme Court recently issued two decisions adopting arguments made by Graves Garrett partners Eddie Greim and Lucinda Luetkemeyer on behalf of their client, the National Republican Redistricting Trust.
Earlier this year, Greim and Luetkemeyer filed an amicus brief with the High Court on behalf of the National Republican Redistricting Trust in support of the North Carolina legislature in Rucho v. Common Cause. Graves Garrett’s brief asked the court to reject the plaintiffs’ request for a sweeping and unworkable “group right” of political parties to proportional representation and leave redistricting to the political branches of government.
The court agreed, ruling that conflicts over partisan gerrymandering are best left to politicians and the electoral process. Both the majority and dissenting opinion made reference to Missouri’s recent experience, a point covered in Graves Garrett’s brief.
Additionally, Greim and Luetkemeyer authored the opposing view to USA Today’s editorial on the topic. The full article can be read at this link.
“The Court has settled a decades-long controversy over whether federal courts should hear partisan gerrymandering cases, answering definitively that federal courts will not hear these claims,” Greim said. “This decision keeps redistricting judgments with the political branches, and for that reason, it’s a victory for the Constitution.”
The cases before the Supreme Court involved allegations from North Carolina Democrats and Maryland Republicans that redistricting plans not only had the intent and effect of discriminating against them based on their political views but also handicapped their First Amendment associational freedoms. Graves Garrett’s brief showed that even a plaintiff asserting an individual rights-based claim must ultimately fall back on a showing that his or her political party or group has a right to a certain proportion of seats — precisely the type of claimed right that the Supreme Court has already held is not protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Implementing the group’s collective right, in turn, would necessarily end up sacrificing the claims of some voters to “equal” political weight — the antithesis of the individual rights-based claim.
“The fundamental flaw in every partisan gerrymandering claim is that under whatever formulation, it always reduces to the ‘group right’ of some political party or faction to control a proportional number of seats,” Greim said. “A ‘group right’ has never been recognized by the Court because it is foreign to our Constitution.”
The Court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments for proportional representation of political parties and closed the door to an unending parade of political challenges, deciding this would be an “unprecedented expansion of judicial power.”
As Chief Justice Roberts noted, plaintiffs asked courts to “make their own political judgment about how much representation particular political parties deserve — based on the votes of their supporters — and to rearrange the challenged districts to achieve that end.” But as the majority ruled, federal courts are not designed to dispense political power, nor did the framers of the Constitution intend them to do so.