Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Since voting is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, we are devoting the entire month of June to shoring up our election security and fairness. This is a good time to make our thoughts heard, because weaknesses in our electoral system will be unfixable if we wait until next summer. We have one action for you to consider this week.
Support the drawing of fair electoral maps. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters protects voting rights by mounting legal challenges to gerrymandered district maps and working to establish independent redistricting commissions in states across the country, including North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio. And last week, The U.S. Supreme Court handed Republican legislators in Virginia a defeat, leaving in place a ruling that invalidated state electoral districts they drew because they weakened the clout of black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision, sidestepped a ruling on the merits of the case. They instead found that the Republican-led state House of Delegates lacked the necessary legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling that had invalidated 11 state House districts for racial discrimination.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat and the state’s top law enforcement official, opposed the appeal and argued that the Republican legislators were not entitled to act on behalf of the state in the case. A new political map is being used for this year’s state elections.
“Virginia’s elections this fall will take place in fair, constitutional districts. It’s a good day for democracy in Virginia,” Herring wrote on Twitter.
The Supreme Court’s action let stand a 2018 ruling by a federal three-judge panel that the 11 districts all violated the rights of black voters to equal protection under the law under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
The state’s Republican-led House of Delegates “lacks authority to displace Virginia’s attorney general as representative of the state,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court’s majority. “In short, Virginia would rather stop than fight on. One house of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process,” Ginsburg added.
The court was not split on ideological lines, with Ginsburg joined in the majority by fellow liberal justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as well as two conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
The League of Women Voters Education Fund is leading many of the anti-gerrymandering cases.
If you have thoughts on gerrymandering, you can contact your Senators and congressperson as well as contacting or donating to the League of Women Voters Education Fund.