Supreme Court ruling on political redistricting could embolden gerrymandering in Utah, critics say

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In wake of the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling Thursday deciding federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over partisan gerrymandering, backers of the voter-approved Proposition 4 are calling on Utah politicians to let the Better Boundaries initiative stand.

The Supreme Court ruling may create complications for the Utah initiative — which establishes an independent redistricting commission in an effort to combat gerrymandering — if the Utah Legislature makes district changes Proposition 4 backers may want to challenge in court. The ruling, however, only relates to federal courts, not state courts, so it doesn’t rule out a potential state court case.

“Just because you’re allowed to do something, doesn’t mean you should,” said Chase Thomas, executive director for the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah, a Proposition 4 supporter, said Thursday.

“Now that the Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility of ensuring fair elections, it is even more important that Utah lawmakers take a stand against partisan gerrymandering and the role it plays in further dividing our communities and nation,” Thomas said. “For the sake of Utahns’ trust in government institutions and the fairness of elections, it is imperative that lawmakers respect the people’s vote on Proposition 4 and the independent redistricting committee it created.”

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