Elena Kagan issues scathing dissent knocking 'tragically wrong' gerrymandering decision

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena KaganElena KaganJustices grapple with multibillion-dollar ObamaCare case Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act MORE on Thursday issued a scathing dissent against what she called its "tragically wrong" ruling that political partisan gerrymandering cases cannot be decided by the federal courts.  

"For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities," Kagan said of the 5-4 decision that ruled that the federal government did not have the autonomy to block election maps created by state legislatures. 

"In giving such gerrymanders a pass from judicial review, the majority goes tragically wrong," she wrote.

The court on Thursday issued a significant ruling regarding a pair of high-profile cases that related to district maps drawn in North Carolina and Maryland. The maps were alleged to be unconstitutional gerrymanders that favored a political party. 


Chief Justice John Roberts and the other four conservative judges ruled that federal courts cannot consider challenges focused on partisan gerrymandering.

Roberts concluded in his majority opinion that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts."

He also added that allowing courts to rule in such cases would overstep of the court's judicial authorities. The opinion vacates previous rulings focused on Maryland's and North Carolina's district maps. It also asks for the cases to be dismissed "for lack of jurisdiction."

Kagan said in her dissent that, "Of all the times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one."

"The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government," she said. 

Kagan, who was joined by the other three liberal judges in her dissent, pointed to the cases before the court, noting that the plaintiffs argued that the congressional district maps favored Democrats in Maryland and Republicans in North Carolina. 

“Is that how American democracy is supposed to work?” Kagan asked, “I have yet to meet the person who thinks so.”