The Supreme Court a few days ago ruled 6-3 that a US House districting map in South Carolina was not an illegal racial gerrymander but was an entirely legitimate political gerrymander and so beyond the reach of courts to intervene in. Political gerrymanders are entirely political matters and the sole province of a State’s legislature, the Court held.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in dissent,

This Court has prohibited race-based gerrymanders for a reason. They divide citizens on racial lines to engineer the results of elections.

I suggest that Kagan has, by mistake, hit upon the larger problem that any gerrymandering creates. Political gerrymandering divides citizens on political lines explicitly to engineer the results of elections. How is that any more acceptable?

The idea of barring racial gerrymanders is to prevent the exclusion of racial minorities in a district from electing government representatives who will represent them.

Yet political gerrymanders, which set districts along purely political party lines, are a legitimate means of excluding political minorities, even major parties in a State’s legislative minority, in a district from electing government representatives who will represent those parties’ members.

How is that in any way different from racial gerrymanders? The group that’s in power is allowed, through gerrymandering, to perpetuate its power by permanently reducing the power of those not in power.

Better to draw House districts—or at least US House districts—as rectangles of substantially equal populations, without regard to race or politics.

The first article of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution includes this:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States….

Article I, Section 4, of our Constitution is this:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.

Congress has some (not absolute) authority over the States’ political decisions regarding the Regulations for holding elections, and that would seem to include districting rules.

Finally, surely among the privileges of an American citizen is the privilege—the right—to vote. Every voter should be on an equal footing with every other voter rather than some voters, by dint of their inclusion in a particular race or political bent, having political advantage over other voters. Disadvantaged voters most assuredly are seeing their voting privilege abridged.

In fine, either all American citizens are equal under law, or we are not.