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Supreme Court Allows Kansas Gerrymander to Stand

As a general rule, Supreme Court jurisprudence in the last three-plus decades has been hostile to "affirmative racial gerrymandering." This is when districts are drawn with an eye toward creating majority-minority constituencies, so that minority voters have some level of representation in Congress. On the other hand, SCOTUS has generally been OK with "negative racial gerrymandering," when districts are drawn in a way so as to dilute the power of minority voters. In view of this context, Monday's decision not to review the most recent Kansas gerrymander is entirely consistent with other recent rulings.

As you might guess, even if you are not especially familiar with Kansas, most of the non-white citizens of the state live in the area in and around Kansas City. And what the legislature did in the most recent re-draw of state Congressional district maps is split the KC area across two districts. A bunch of Kansas voters, backed by the ACLU, filed suit. The Kansas Supreme Court said the new map is OK with them, and in yesterday's unsigned decision, SCOTUS declined to take up the case.

At the moment, the map likely isn't affecting the makeup of Kansas' congressional delegation. In the absence of the gerrymander, the state would have three deep-red districts and one fairly blue district. As it is, the state has two deep-red districts (R+18, R+14), one fairly red district (R+11), and one light-red district (R+1). And the light-red district, KS-03, is currently represented by a Democrat, namely Sharice Davids. The Democrats would really like that seat to be safer than it is, but as long as Davids keeps running for reelection, the Party will probably hold onto it. And that's really the blue team's upper limit in Kansas, regardless of how the map is drawn. (Z)

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