In a ruling on Thursday tied to the practice of partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court — as it’s charged to do — weighed in on the perceived intent of the Founding Fathers, the wording of the United States Constitution and lower court findings on the matter.
The 5-4 decision in two cases will protect the right of state legislatures and the political party that controls those bodies to continue to draw voting maps for elections.
Much of the conservative-majority opinion obviously references what has happened in the past in order to rule on what is happening today. But we were struck by a passage in the dissent of Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who threw in a nod to Microsoft’s groundbreaking operating system while also referencing developing technologies that could continue to shape this political battle.
“Gerrymanders will only get worse (or depending on your perspective, better) as time goes on — as data becomes ever more fine-grained and data analysis techniques continue to improve. What was possible with paper and pen — or even with Windows 95 — doesn’t hold a candle (or an LED bulb?) to what will become possible with developments like machine learning. And someplace along this road, “we the people” become sovereign no longer.”
Kagan’s tech-infused blurb shows up on page 49 of the Court’s opinion.