AJC Urges Supreme Court to Affirm Gerrymandering Violates First Amendment

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NEW YORK, March 19, 2019 — AJC is urging the United States Supreme Court to affirm two lower court rulings that partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina and Maryland violated the First Amendment.

“The partisan gerrymandering cases before this Court present serious First Amendment harms that are not susceptible to a political solution and that threaten the democratic experiment as a whole,” said AJC General Counsel Marc Stern.

District courts in North Carolina and Maryland found that redistricting in both states were “textbook cases of partisan gerrymandering,” states the AJC amicus brief filed in the case of Rucho vs. Common Cause and Lamone vs Benisek. The Court is hearing the two appeals together.

The AJC brief argues that the Supreme Court is the appropriate place to resolve the issue because it has determined in previous cases that “such partisan gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles.”

The majority parties – Republican in North Carolina and Democratic in Maryland – intentionally diluted the voting power of the minority party, concluded the lower courts, and systematically burdened those political minorities’ abilities to express themselves, associate with like-minded others, and advocate for their views.

The AJC brief asserts that this partisan gerrymandering undermines public trust in representative democracy by creating a perception that political outcomes are predetermined by district lines.

“The resulting loss of the public’s confidence that it is possible to bring about political change and electoral turnover through the normal channels of the marketplace of ideas—not only at the ballot box, but in the long road to the election—has significant effects of the exercise of First Amendment freedoms,” states the AJC brief.

Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been an active participant in the marketplace of ideas and has observed first-hand that vigorous, bipartisan dialogue has the power to bridge ides and meaningfully advance the interests of otherwise disempowered political minorities.

“A malfunctioning political process is detrimental to minority populations and can operate to deny that minority the protection afforded other groups by a representative system,” states the AJC brief. The U.S Supreme Court “has the necessary competence – and the constitutional obligation – to step in before the ongoing malfunction of the marketplace of ideas turns into a durable market failure.”

The AJC brief was prepared by Richard Rosen of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, his colleagues Peter Sandel, Elizabeth J. Grossman, and Melina Meneguin Layerenza, and AJC General Counsel Marc D Stern.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee

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