The final day of the 2018-2019 SCOTUS term landed with three massive decisions, and it was largely a wash. First, Chief Justice Roberts ruled in a 5-4 split that the federal courts have no business whatsoever dealing with state gerrymandering issues, giving a massive, permanent structural win to Republicans.
In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.
The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.
"We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the conservative majority. "Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions."
Roberts noted that excessive partisanship in the drawing of districts does lead to results that "reasonably seem unjust," but he said that does not mean it is the court's responsibility to find a solution.
Now just two years away from the redrawing of new districts at the start of the next decade, legislators in states that have control of all levels of governments after the 2020 election may feel emboldened by the ruling, said Justin Levitt, an election law professor at Loyola Law School.
"We are in Mad Max territory now; there are no rules," Levitt said. "I think you'll see more legislators in more states [where there is unilateral control] taking up the mantle of extreme partisan aggression against people who disagree with them."
Republicans now have unlimited authority to redraw districts as they see fit. Expect states like NC, Florida, Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin to redraw districts concentrating black voters into one or two districts, and leaving all other districts majority white and Republican.
The prime result of this ruling, combined with demographics, could very well mean a permanent GOP Congress as state legislatures will simply keep themselves in power.
Democrats will try to keep up in states like Florida and Illinois, but I would suspect that entire states could become one-party affairs.
The good news: Republicans won't be able to use the 2020 Census to force citizenship questions on everyone.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberal justices, saying the administration did not provide adequate justification for the question.
The reason provided by the White House seem "contrived", the justices wrote in a 5-4 ruling.
The White House argued the question would help protect minority voters.
But the Census Bureau's own experts say it would lead to a major undercount.
Though the ruling deals a blow to the Trump administration, the complicated decision does not bar the question for either its language or the underlying premise.
Instead, by sending the case back to a lower court, Justice Roberts left open the possibility that the Trump administration could provide the necessary justification to add a question on citizenship to the census.
This battle will be back again before the court next June. Count on it.
But don't get pulled over by cops though. Not even your blood is safe from police search and seizure.
The Supreme Court has ruled that police may, without a warrant, order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Fourth Amendment generally requires police to obtain a warrant for a blood draw. But in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, the court upheld a Wisconsin law that says people driving on a public road have impliedly consented to having their blood drawn if police suspect them of driving under the influence. It also said that "exigent circumstances" permit police to obtain a blood sample without a warrant.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority vote.
The decision conflicts with previous court rulings in which the justices ruled that a blood draw is a significant bodily intrusion into a person's privacy and that there are less intrusive ways of enforcing drunken driving laws against unconscious motorists — getting a warrant, for instance, which in these tech-savvy days can be done relatively easily and quickly.
In 2013, for instance, the high court ruled that police violated the Constitution when they ordered a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a routine DUI case. The vote then was 5-4, but two of the justices in that majority, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, are no longer on the court.
A court that can rule the state has a right to your bodily fluids can rob you of consent for a lot of things, guys.
It's not a good day for America.
Not at all.