Supreme Court
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The Republicans got a giant white nationalist reward today for their refusal to seat Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the SCOTUS overturned a ruling by a three-judge federal district court that Texas has drawn their legislative maps with racially discriminatory intent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote scathingly for the minority:

Although the majority should not have discussed the merits at all, Sotomayor continued, there too it went astray. First, Sotomayor complained, the district court did not (contrary to Texas’ assertion and the majority’s conclusion) get the legal test wrong: The district court did focus on the legislature’s intent when it adopted the 2013 plans, “rather than simply presuming invidious intent from the failure to remove the taint, as the majority claims.” And when all of the evidence is considered together, Sotomayor contended, the district court properly concluded that the legislature did intend to discriminate.

In a blistering final paragraph that closed with the phrase “I dissent,” rather than the “I respectfully dissent” often used by the justices, Sotomayor protested that today’s ruling “does great damage to” the right “to equal participation in our political processes.” “Not because it denies the existence of that right, but because it refuses its enforcement. The Court intervenes when no intervention is authorized and blinds itself to the overwhelming factual record below. It does all of this to allow Texas to use electoral maps that, in design and effect, burden the rights of minority voters.”

Significantly, the Roberts Court also invalidated a ruling that North Carolina’s maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Here, the law is more complex even if the intent of the Republican legislature is not. Both Texas and North Carolina will now be able to use maps designed specifically to limit the impact of minority voters and maximize the number of seats held by Republicans.

It remains a Republican Party strategy, now advanced by the highest court in the land, to win elections through other means than having the most appeal to the voters. They seek to purge voter rolls, make it harder to register, limit how many days and places people can vote, require identification that disproportionately disenfranchises Democratic voters, and draw legislative districts they almost cannot lose. They would rather do these types of things than make any effort to win over a greater proportion of support from blacks, Asians, Latinos and Muslims.

But the legitimacy of a government depends on the consent of the governed, and that consent cannot be sustained when the Supreme Court lends a hand to favor one party over another at the expense of religious, ethnic, and racial minorities.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at