Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority has indicated that the Plaintiffs lack Article III standing to pursue redistricting claims against the Wisconsin legislature.
This could potentially end all non-race based law suits against redistricting in federal court.
Syllabus quote below:
(Note to Mods: The below syllabus is in the public domain as a work of the federal government. Attribution is given to the United States Supreme Court.)
Members of the Wisconsin Legislature are elected from single-member
legislative districts. Under the Wisconsin Constitution, the legislature
must redraw the boundaries of those districts following each
census. After the 2010 census, the legislature passed a new districting
plan known as Act 43. Twelve Democratic voters, the plaintiffs in
this case, alleged that Act 43 harms the Democratic Party’s ability to
convert Democratic votes into Democratic seats in the legislature.
They asserted that Act 43 does this by “cracking” certain Democratic
voters among different districts in which those voters fail to achieve
electoral majorities and “packing” other Democratic voters in a few
districts in which Democratic candidates win by large margins. The
plaintiffs argued that the degree to which packing and cracking has
favored one political party over another can be measured by an “efficiency
gap” that compares each party’s respective “wasted” votes—
i.e., votes cast for a losing candidate or for a winning candidate in excess
of what that candidate needs to win—across all legislative districts.
The plaintiffs claimed that the statewide enforcement of Act
43 generated an excess of wasted Democratic votes, thereby violating
the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right of association and their Fourteenth
Amendment right to equal protection. The defendants, several
members of the state election commission, moved to dismiss the
plaintiffs’ claims. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to
challenge the constitutionality of Act 43 as a whole because, as individual
voters, their legally protected interests extend only to the
makeup of the legislative district in which they vote. The three-judge
District Court denied the defendants’ motion and, following a trial,
concluded that Act 43 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Regarding standing, the court held that the plaintiffs had suffered a
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particularized injury to their equal protection rights.
Held: The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate Article III standing.
(a) Over the past five decades this Court has repeatedly been asked
to decide what judicially enforceable limits, if any, the Constitution
sets on partisan gerrymandering. Previous attempts at an answer
have left few clear landmarks for addressing the question and have
generated conflicting views both of how to conceive of the injury arising
from partisan gerrymandering and of the appropriate role for the
Federal Judiciary in remedying that injury. See Gaffney v. Cummings,
412 U. S. 735, Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U. S. 109, Vieth v. Jubelirer,
541 U. S. 267, and League of United Latin American Citizens
v. Perry, 548 U. S. 399. Pp. 8–12.
(b) A plaintiff may not invoke federal-court jurisdiction unless he
can show “a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy,” Baker
v. Carr, 369 U. S. 186, 204. That requirement ensures that federal
courts “exercise power that is judicial in nature,” Lance v. Coffman,
549 U. S. 437, 439, 441. To meet that requirement, a plaintiff must
show an injury in fact—his pleading and proof that he has suffered
the “invasion of a legally protected interest” that is “concrete and
particularized,” i.e., which “affect[s] the plaintiff in a personal and
individual way.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 560,
and n. 1.
The right to vote is “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds v.
Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 561, and “voters who allege facts showing disadvantage
to themselves as individuals have standing to sue” to remedy
that disadvantage, Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs here alleged
that they suffered such injury from partisan gerrymandering,
which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters. To the
extent that the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes,
that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is
placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative. The
boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, determine
whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or
cracked. A plaintiff who complains of gerrymandering, but who does
not live in a gerrymandered district, “assert[s] only a generalized
grievance against governmental conduct of which he or she does not
approve.” United States v. Hays, 515 U. S. 737, 745.
The plaintiffs argue that their claim, like the claims presented in
Baker and Reynolds, is statewide in nature. But the holdings in
those cases were expressly premised on the understanding that the
injuries giving rise to those claims were “individual and personal in
nature,” Reynolds, 377 U. S., at 561, because the claims were brought
by voters who alleged “facts showing disadvantage to themselves as
Cite as: 585 U. S. ____ (2018) 3
individuals,” Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs’ mistaken insistence
that the claims in Baker and Reynolds were “statewide in
nature” rests on a failure to distinguish injury from remedy. In those
malapportionment cases, the only way to vindicate an individual
plaintiff’s right to an equally weighted vote was through a wholesale
“restructuring of the geographical distribution of seats in a state legislature.”
Reynolds, 377 U. S., at 561. Here, the plaintiffs’ claims
turn on allegations that their votes have been diluted. Because that
harm arises from the particular composition of the voter’s own district,
remedying the harm does not necessarily require restructuring
all of the State’s legislative districts. It requires revising only such
districts as are necessary to reshape the voter’s district. This fits the
rule that a “remedy must of course be limited to the inadequacy that
produced the injury in fact that the plaintiff has established.” Lewis
v. Casey, 518 U. S. 343, 357.
The plaintiffs argue that their legal injury also extends to the
statewide harm to their interest “in their collective representation in
the legislature,” and in influencing the legislature’s overall “composition
and policymaking.” Brief for Appellees 31. To date, however,
the Court has not found that this presents an individual and personal
injury of the kind required for Article III standing. A citizen’s interest
in the overall composition of the legislature is embodied in his
right to vote for his representative. The harm asserted by the plaintiffs
in this case is best understood as arising from a burden on their
own votes. Pp. 12–17.
© Four of the plaintiffs in this case pleaded such a particularized
burden. But as their case progressed to trial, they failed to pursue
their allegations of individual harm. They instead rested their case
on their theory of statewide injury to Wisconsin Democrats, in support
of which they offered three kinds of evidence. First, they presented
testimony pointing to the lead plaintiff’s hope of achieving a
Democratic majority in the legislature. Under the Court’s cases to
date, that is a collective political interest, not an individual legal interest.
Second, they produced evidence regarding the mapmakers’
deliberations as they drew district lines. The District Court relied on
this evidence in concluding that those mapmakers sought to understand
the partisan effect of the maps they were drawing. But the
plaintiffs’ establishment of injury in fact turns on effect, not intent,
and requires a showing of a burden on the plaintiffs’ votes that is “actual
or imminent, not ‘conjectural’ or ‘hypothetical.’ ” Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U. S., at 560. Third, the plaintiffs presented partisanasymmetry
studies showing that Act 43 had skewed Wisconsin’s
statewide map in favor of Republicans. Those studies do not address
the effect that a gerrymander has on the votes of particular citizens.
4 GILL v. WHITFORD
They measure instead the effect that a gerrymander has on the fortunes
of political parties. That shortcoming confirms the fundamental
problem with the plaintiffs’ case as presented on this record. It is
a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights.
(d) Where a plaintiff has failed to demonstrate standing, this Court
usually directs dismissal. See, e.g., DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno,
547 U. S. 332, 354. Here, however, where the case concerns an unsettled
kind of claim that the Court has not agreed upon, the contours
and justiciability of which are unresolved, the case is remanded
to the District Court to give the plaintiffs an opportunity to prove
concrete and particularized injuries using evidence that would tend
to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes. Cf. Alabama Legislative
Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U. S. ___, ___. Pp. 21–22.
218 F. Supp. 3d 837, vacated and remanded.
ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY,
GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined, and in
which THOMAS and GORSUCH, JJ., joined except as to Part III. KAGAN,
J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR,
JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part
and concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined