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US States Should Press Ahead with Reforms to Address Partisan Gerrymandering
In response to the US Supreme Court’s June 27 finding that it did not have the authority to restrict partisan gerrymandering, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The refusal of the Supreme Court majority to rule against partisan gerrymandering is unfortunate,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “As our Freedom in the World analysis has repeatedly noted, gerrymandering ranks as a major defect in the American electoral system. It strongly contributes to polarization and dysfunction in our democracy, encouraging extreme positions and discouraging moderation and compromise among elected officials,” Abramowitz added. “Although the Supreme Court has declined to act, voters and lawmakers in a growing number of states have adopted reforms to ensure that the drawing of district lines for both the House of Representatives and state legislatures is controlled or informed by independent, nonpartisan bodies. We urge that similar initiatives be undertaken wherever partisan gerrymandering remains a problem.”
The Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, that complaints of partisan gerrymandering “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”
Last year, voters in five states—Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah—approved reforms designed to make the redistricting process more politically neutral. Several other states are considering reforms this year, including New Hampshire, where a bill was sent to the governor for approval last week. A majority of states still leave redistricting in the hands of state legislatures.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.