Amicus Brief: Merrill v. Milligan

by Jonathon Hauenschild

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Introduction

The Constitution grants to state legislatures primary redistricting responsibilities. When exercising this responsibility, state legislators must weigh numerous considerations, including age, economic status, religious, political persuasion, and non-division of geographically similar regions. On top of this, state legislators must redistrict consistent with state and federal constitutions, federal law and jurisprudence.

Current federal jurisprudence does not reflect the text of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act and, while well-intentioned, has empowered federal courts to second-guess and supplant the state legislative process. Plaintiffs encourage courts to ignore or disregard legislatures’ arguments for crafting districts in certain ways in favor of a plaintiff or court drawn map.]

When enacting § 2, Congress likely never intended for it to be used as a carte blanche tool for striking down legislative districts. Instead, it likely intended for state legislatures to competently redistrict and for courts to give those legislative debates some measure of deference.

The Court needs to adopt a test consistent with the language of § 2 that provides a measure of meaningful deference to state legislatures while balancing protections for minorities, ensuring that they have “equal access” to a “state’s political process” consistent with the law and Constitution.

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