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Monday, June 5, 2017

Today's Supreme Court Decision on Redistricting

In the case of North Carolina v. Covington, the Supreme Court today vacated an order that shortened legislative terms and order a special election for this November in 28 districts that were drawn with excessive reliance on race.  The issue was not whether or not the original districts relied too much on race; that was resolved separately.  SCOTUS was only considering whether or not it was appropriate for the district court to suspend the North Carolina constitution, shorten the legislators' terms and order a special election to fill the remainder of the term.  The court unanimously overturned that order by the district court.

This is an important decision.  It is the Supreme Court telling the federal judiciary that they cannot simply step in an substitute their own views for established legal rules.  Here the rule is that a court must weigh all the relevant factors before "doing equity".  The NC district court had just decided that it could not abide any district that could be described as a racial gerrymander and never considered anything else.  SCOTUS held that this was improper.

This unanimous decision gives me reason to believe that when the Trump executive order on entry into the USA from certain countries comes before the Court, the President will prevail.  The law is clear that a court is to look at the text of a statute or regulation (or executive order) and not go beyond that text unless particular exceptions apply.  The President's executive order is clear and doesn't meet any of those exceptions.  SCOTUS is not going to allow the lower courts to substitute their own predilections for the requirements of the law.

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