UNITED UTAH PARTY APPLAUDS SUPREME COURT DECISION ON STATE LEGISLATURE AUTHORITY
Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that state legislatures do not have unchecked authority to control elections and that state supreme courts have the authority to overturn congressional districting plans for being overly partisan.
“This is a critically important decision from the Supreme Court that rejects the idea that State Legislatures may freely gerrymander voting districts, and preserves important checks and balances in our system of government” said Ladd Johnson, United Utah Party Chair.
“I am thrilled about the implications this ruling will have for the current lawsuit in Utah filed by the League of Women Voters and Mormon Women for Ethical Government which challenges Utah's badly-gerrymandered congressional districts,” Johnson said. In 2018, Utah voters passed a ballot initiative creating an independent redistricting commission that produced non-partisan maps. The Utah legislature rejected those maps in favor of their own highly-gerrymandered district maps.
This ruling specifically repudiates the "independent state legislature" theory, in which proponents argue the US Constitution gives legislatures unlimited power to redistrict their respective states. Instead, this ruling makes clear that "state courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the Elections Clause." In the past, redistricting maps had been rejected for racially-based gerrymandering, but this landmark case also clarifies that state courts may interpret their own State's Constitution and reject maps based on overly partisan gerrymandering.
“Hopefully the Utah legislature will realize that they should have followed the meticulously studied, publicly available recommendations of the Independent Redistricting Committee instead of ignoring them completely and approving maps they drafted behind closed doors with no public input,” said Johnson. “The United Utah Party has supported independent redistricting from our inception and we are glad to see this ruling which brings us one step closer to voters being genuinely able to choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters.”
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