With only Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining both parts of the decision, the court looked in two directions..., rejecting the statewide gerrymandering claim brought by Democrats and other plaintiffs while accepting the Voting Rights Act challenge in southwestern Texas, brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The case produced six separate opinions, a total of 123 pages.That's half of the reason why I did not read and summarize the case for you when it came out yesterday. It's not just that the case is long and fractured. It's that it fails to do anything to clear up the utterly confused standard to be applied in claims of unconstitutional gerrymandering and adds nothing new to the analysis of whether courts should entirely refuse to entertain such claims (by applying the so-called "political question doctrine"). I note that the two new Justices offer nothing new. Here's Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justice Alito:
... I agree with the determination that appellants have not provided “a reliable standard for identifying unconstitutional political gerrymanders.” The question whether any such standard exists — that is, whether a challenge to a political gerrymander presents a justiciable case or controversy—has not been argued in these cases. I therefore take no position on that question, which has divided the Court, see Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U. S. 267 (2004)...I'll be interested when they do take a position on this issue (which I tormented my students with on the last conlaw exam). Roberts and Alito replaced two Justices who agreed with Thomas and Scalia that political gerrymandering is not justiciable, and Justice Kennedy is holding down a middle position that is keeping the law in this area exceedingly unclear. The outcome in the new case is important, and it affects significant political interests. But as an expression of law it is highly unsatisfying.