Jun 27, 2019

Supreme Court: Partisan gerrymandering "beyond the reach" of federal courts

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In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said that cases about partisan gerrymandering are "beyond the reach of the federal courts" — a blow to voting-rights activists and Democrats.

Why it matters: Today's ruling is a green light for gerrymandering to get even more aggressive. That will make it harder for minority parties to retake the reins of power — even in wave elections.

Details: The court was considering two specific instances of gerrymandering: A district in Maryland whose boundaries benefit Democrats, and North Carolina's legislative map, which was designed explicitly to help Republicans retain power.

  • "I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country," the architect of North Carolina's 2016 redistricting process said at the time.

The big picture: Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, didn't just say that those two specific instances of gerrymandering can stand. He said the federal courts will never draw a line to declare that any partisan gerrymander went too far.

  • How to draw legislative districts is a political question, Roberts said, and it's not the courts' place to decide "how much partisan dominance is too much."
  • States can answer that question for themselves, he said, by establishing nonpartisan redistricting commissions or changing their criteria.

The other side: "The politicians who benefit from partisan gerrymandering are unlikely to change partisan gerrymandering. And because those politicians maintain themselves in office through partisan gerrymandering, the chances for legislative reform are slight," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent joined by the other three liberal justices.

  • Kagan also warned that gerrymandering will keep getting more extreme as the technology behind it advances, citing the advanced computer modeling that helped produce North Carolina's GOP-advantaged map.

Go deeper: Supreme Court freezes citizenship question for 2020 Census

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Boris Johnson in intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated in the intensive care unit of St. Thomas' Hospital in London due to increasingly severe coronavirus symptoms.

What they're saying: Cabinet minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday morning Johnson was not on a ventilator. "The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision," he said.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,348,184— Total deaths: 74,834 — Total recoveries: 284,802Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 368,376 — Total deaths: 10,989 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll nears 11,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,900 in the U.S. early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus-related conditions each day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

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