The battlefield of the Houses is almost closed this year. The next decade is still wide open.

Long-term legal activity means that while both sides are preparing for this year’s House battlefield battlefield, they are also preparing for a conflict along political lines that will go far beyond the normal redistricting period that follows every decennial census. – with the potential to significantly change the map of the House over the next decade.

“This is not a two-year redistricting cycle like usual,” said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Fund. “It’s a ten-year redistricting cycle and probably a four-year intensive redistricting cycle.”

What is outstanding for 2022

In the run-up to the midterm elections, only two states have yet to put the lines in place: Missouri and New Hampshire, where Republican-controlled state governments are battling.

New Hampshire remains at a dead end over its two-borough map. The Republican State Legislature passed a map that would create one Republican-leaning seat and one Democratic-leaning seat. But GOP Governor Chris Sununu promised to veto itputting forward its own map creating two competitive districts.

In a lawsuit due to deadlock, The state supreme court appointed a special master earlier this month who will draw the map if the governor and the legislature cannot reach an agreement. On Monday Republicans in the State House of Representatives introduced a new proposed cardalthough Sununu is almost immediately knocked down this card too.

And in an unusual scenario, two Missouri state legislatures are arguing over how to draw their state’s map. The state’s eight counties are currently tied at 6-2 for the Republicans, but some conservatives in the state have pushed for a 7-1 card. Two cameras did not agree on which map should become law in late March, when the House of Representatives rejected the Senate proposal 6–2.

Kincaid called the condition “completely unknown at the moment”, saying that the court may have to intervene here.

Meanwhile, other states that have handed over the cards could potentially see their changes soon due to legal action.

The parties focused in particular on two states — Kansas and New York — where existing maps may not match those the states actually use this year.

In Kansas, the Republican card, which divided the Kansas City metro area and placed more GOP voters in the state’s only blue district, gained acceptance. canceled by state district court this week, with an appeal to the state supreme court next.

The biggest case was in New York, where a Democratic swindler squeezed Republicans into four of the state’s 26 districts, winning just one competitive seat in the state.

There, Republicans and some outside watchdog groups argue that the card represents illegal partisan fraud under the state constitution—a type of argument that Democrats have used with great success in recent years in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

“New York’s constitution is pretty clear. And so, if New York’s constitution means anything, then these cards shouldn’t be able to withstand falls,” Kincaid said.

On Tuesday, the State Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, heard an appeal against a lower court’s decision to discard the cards. A decision is expected soon in the case, which contains both procedural objections to how the final map was made and whether it is an illegal fraud or not.

Florida is also being singled out as the target of a 2022 trial, although it’s unclear if the state Supreme Court will move against DeSantis’ line. The governor’s lines create 20 Republican-supporting counties and eight Democratic-supporting counties, displacing the current 16-11 delegation and erasing several counties designed to give political power to voters of color.

“DeSantis is interfering in the redistricting process in an unprecedented way,” Kelly Burton, president of the Democratic National Committee on Redistricting, said, adding that the map is “illegal, wrong, immoral” and damaging to black voters.

“No one must leave at intermission”

Most of the other lawsuits are not expected to be resolved until the 2022 election, meaning there could be big changes on the maps of future elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled only three years ago that there was no federal bailout for partisan fraud by taking most of these lawsuits to state courts, made it clear earlier this year that it thought most of the card problems were too close to real. elections so that they can be resolved. .

In February, the Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling that dismissed the Alabama congressional card as an illegal scam that weakened the power of black voters. Some judges who explained their rationale partly backed their decision, citing the “Purcell Principle” — the idea that federal courts should be careful to make significant changes to election laws too close to an election, which could confuse voters.

Other states, including Georgia and Texas, have similar federal claims on their cards under the Voting Rights Act. But these cases will not be resolved until the 2022 elections. In Georgia, a district court judge ruled that petitioners “are likely to eventually prove that certain aspects of the state’s redistricting plans are illegal.” but he decreed that the cards must stand in the midterms because there was not enough time to change them.

“From a procedural standpoint, the Supreme Court took a really aggressive stance when it was too close to the election — an aggressive but inconsistent line,” said Michael Lee, senior adviser to the liberal-minded Brennan Center for Justice. “Especially when you talk about racial discrimination lawsuits and other racially motivated lawsuits, racially motivated lawsuits take a long time to resolve.”

State allegations of party machinations are also likely to circulate after this year’s elections.

The Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly dismissed maps drawn by the Republican Party as illegal frauds. And while there is an ongoing problem with the current map of Congress, once early voting began in the May 3 primary, it has become impractical for any future decision to change the lines this year.

A similar situation is unfolding in New Mexico, where earlier this month a state district judge said the Republican protest against the card was a valid argument, but declined a request to block them ahead of the June primary because “demanding change so late in the game would be creating chaos in a process that is not in the best interest of the public or the candidates.”

The GOP’s decision to limit or completely eliminate the power of state courts to rule on congressional redistricting could also change the maps of Congress for the next decade. Republican plaintiffs are increasingly advancing in court the “independent legislature” theory, an interpretation of the Constitution that state legislators have near-ultimate authority over many election-related decisions, including redistricting, and that state courts have limited or no power. have – act like a check.

So far, four conservative justices of the Supreme Court have declared some degree of openness to this theory. And last month, North Carolina Republicans petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn state supreme court ruling on maps of North Carolina citing this theory, potentially giving the nation’s highest court the first major opportunity to speak on the matter after the 2020 election.

And the prospect of redrawing the map lines in the middle of the decade also intensifies this decade. Some states outright ban the practice, while on the other end of the spectrum; Ohio may have to draw new lines after the 2024 election due to a lack of bipartisan support for its current card. And the flood of court-drawn maps could prompt lawmakers to try to redraw boundaries.

“Sometimes the cards are discarded by the court and the legislature has to go back and redraw them. Sometimes the process changes,” Kincaid said. “Sometimes it’s a political shift where one party didn’t control the process and then takes over the state and redraws the cards.”

Burton said her organization’s strategy has been validated by the approaching completion of the first round of the redistricting cycle. Burton said that the “triple Republican control of redistricting [was decreased] more than 20 percent over the past decade,” and that the group will defend its gains — and continue to push for a reallocation of commissions.

Between a legal landscape that is likely to change dramatically over the next decade and the potential for states to redraw the cards to shore up intra-party power, the map of 2030 could be drastically different from that of 2022.

“We are at least at the end of the first act, or close to it,” Lee said. “No one should leave at intermission thinking they know how this story will end.”