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Lecturer in Law Neil Makhija warns that SCOTUS congressional voting maps decisions could signal eventual erosion of state courts’ power

March 09, 2022

Makhija is frequently called upon as an expert on issues of voting rights, immigration, and Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court recently declined to block court orders in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that threw out congressional maps enacted by the states’ Republican legislatures and replaced them with maps drawn by trial courts. This year’s elections, therefore, will move forward with the court-drawn maps.

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Lecturer in Law Neil Makhija released the following statement: 

While the current districts will stand, it appears there would be at least four, perhaps five Justices willing to overturn a precedent set in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (U.S. 2015). The Court thus appears poised to allow state legislatures to bypass all checks and balances from the executive and judicial branches of state government when it comes to regulating federal elections, including by allowing extreme partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other laws that might be at odds with state constitutions.

While the Justices have allowed the districts to stand for now, the language in their opinions charts the path to eroding the power of state courts to enforce and protect the rights to “free and fair elections” as state constitutions would otherwise require.

Makhija is the Executive Director of Indian American Impact, the nation’s leading South Asian civic organization. In 2021, he was one of 13 Asian American civil rights leaders invited to the White House to advise President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on voting rights and immigration. He was named by City & State PA as one of the “40 under 40” most influential people in Pennsylvania politics alongside some of the state’s highest-ranking government leaders.

Makhija has spent over a decade in national politics and is frequently called upon as an expert on issues of voting rights, immigration, and Pennsylvania. His opinions and commentary have been featured in Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, The Intercept, Foreign Policy, POLITICO, and other media outlets across the country.

In 2016, Makhija was the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 122nd House District, where he outperformed the national Democratic ticket by 14 points in the general election. During his candidacy, Makhija won the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case, In Re: Makhija (2016), which protected the rights of students and recent graduates to run for office in their home state under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

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