The U.S. Supreme Court punted on the merits of partisan gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland, ruling instead on narrow grounds of standing and process. The Court remanded the Wisconsin case back to the district court, and it affirmed a lower court’s decision to deny Maryland plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the congressional map there.

In the Wisconsin case, Gill vs. Whitford, the Court ruled that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate standing (PDF), which requires a “personal stake in the outcome” that plaintiffs were unable to prove. “This Court therefore lack[s] the power to resolve their claims,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, which was unanimous on most points.

Plaintiffs – 12 Wisconsin voters – alleged harm statewide because Democrats “do not have the same opportunity provided to Republicans to elect representatives of their choice” in their challenge to the state’s entire redistricting plan. The Court reasoned that plaintiffs’ “injury is district specific,” which means any remedy must address that specific injury. “Remedying the individual voter’s harm, therefore, does not necessarily require restructuring all of the State’s legislative districts,” Roberts wrote.

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