SCOTUS Decision Clears Way For Partisan Gerrymandering

Jul 16, 2019

In Illinois, election maps are drawn by the political party in power. Thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that will continue to be the case — even after the 2020 census.

The Supreme Court declared late last month that federal judges cannot intervene in cases where state lawmakers draw political boundaries to benefit one political party over another.

While the issue of partisan gerrymandering is nothing new, technology has dramatically changed the precision with which it happens. That’s according to Chris Mooney, a political scientist with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

“Even in the '70s, there’s a famous story about a guy, a California politico, who drew out the House districts for California on the back of an envelope on a train,” Mooney said. “That’s the kind of thing they used to do. But now, it’s super high-tech, they really can identify where people are given the data we’ve got.”

Lawmakers will propose legislative and congressional district maps after the 20-20 Census is complete.

Mooney said says both parties are to blame for partisan gerrymandering — drawing districts in odd shapes to maximize votes for themselves.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has said he’ll veto any map that’s unfair. But Mooney said he’ll be shocked if Pritzker goes toe-to-toe on this issue with long-standing Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan.

Mooney made his comments on The 21st show.