This is not a good sign for Republicans.
Following several state court victories, Democrats have been handed an unexpected advantage in red states, giving the party a better chance of retaining control of Congress in the decade ahead.
Last week, North Carolina’s Supreme Court was the latest to invalidate GOP-drawn district lines, ordering the legislature to draw new boundaries, a move that could increase the chances of Democrats winning seats in Congress.
The original lines –– which were struck down in a 4-3 decision –– gave the North Carolina GOP 10 of 14 U.S. House seats.
This decision follows a similar ruling in Ohio’s Supreme Court, which ordered a new redistricting committee to redraw the lines that initially would have given Republicans an advantage in 13 of 15 U.S. House districts.
In Alabama last month, a panel of federal judges ordered the redistricting committee to draw a second Black-majority district.
A redistricting case that was proceeding in lower courts was taken over by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week. The ruling by the court –– presumed to be that a new map should be adopted –– is likely to favor Democrats more than GOP-advanced proposals who control the state legislature.
In the upcoming midterms, Republicans are likely to win back control of Congress, spurred by President Joe Biden’s dismal approval ratings and several challenges facing Democrats.
Yet, these redistricting rulings give Democrats the opportunity –– if they do lose the House in this year’s midterm elections –– to map a path to reclaim the majority within the next decade, something Democrats thought wouldn’t be possible as they feared Republican gerrymandering would stifle their chances.
This is not the first time Democrats have turned to state courts to challenge Republican redistricting. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts were to stay out of partisan gerrymandering cases. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing in the Rucho v. Common Cause, on behalf of the five-justice majority, stated that the fundamentally political issue was best left to the states or Congress.
Since Congress has not made any moves, state courts have to step up and fill the gap.