In Rucho v. Common Cause, and by a narrow 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court turned its back on democracy by allowing States to draw voting districts however they want. The Supreme Court majority so ruled despite understanding the decision means that States will have a free hand in reducing the voting power of targeted communities and members of a political party not currently in power. Rucho is not especially surprising given the Supreme Court, by another slim 5-4 majority, also recently eviscerated the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder. The American Constitution Society and other legal commentators have observed that the practical effect of Rucho will be to encourage civil rights violations, including discrimination and retaliation, especially in certain States.
In Department of Commerce v. New York, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision that ruled the Trump Administration cannot add a question to the Census about a person’s citizenship based on the Trump Administration’s “contrived” explanation three separate Federal courts previously found to be false. The true motive for the proposed change to the census concerned the reduction of political power and resources for people of color, immigrants, and political opponents of the Trump Administration. Nonetheless, Justice Robert’s opinion in Department of Commerce essentially invites the Trump Administration to come back with a more plausible explanation to rationalize a change to the Census, a change that the Census Bureau’s own experts recognize would significantly distort Census data and the corresponding allocation of political power and public resources.