The Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed a Republican victory in a redistricting dispute from Georgia.
A federal panel had ruled that state legislative boundaries drawn by a Democratic-controlled legislature packed too many people in some districts and too few into others. While the high court affirmed that decision by a vote of 8-1, Justice Antonin Scalia (search) wrote a dissent that it was not clear the ruling was correct.
"A substantial case can be made that Georgia's redistricting plan did comply with the Constitution," he wrote. "Ferreting out political motives in minute population deviations seems to me more likely to encourage politically motivated litigation than to vindicate political rights."
Georgia officials argued that under the standard spelled out by the court, every state's legislative boundary plan could be struck down.
"The district court waded deep into the forbidden political waters by creating a new one-person, one-vote type of claim, one that is inconsistent with this court's precedents going back over three decades," justices were told by David Walbert, the attorney for Georgia.
Frank Strickland, the lawyer for voters who challenged the boundaries, said states should not have "the unfettered discretion to use voters as pawns in a regional and political game and thereby deny those voters equal protection."
Stevens, writing for the two, said that Georgia "invites us to weaken the one-person, one-vote standard by creating a safe harbor for population deviations of less than 10 percent, within which districting decisions could be made for any reason whatsoever. The court properly rejects that invitation."
The case is Cox v. Larios, 03-1413.