Supreme Court Grants Cert in Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case”

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear a case over whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional-a move that could spell disaster for Republican domination in the U.S. House of Representatives, governors' mansions, and state houses across America.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday morning to hear Gill v. Whitford is good news for the millions of Americans now being denied the right to elect representatives of their choosing due to partisan gerrymandering. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps, according to the Associated Press.

"This is a historic opportunity to address one of the biggest problems facing our electoral system", said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Oral arguments are scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 18, before the Kansas Supreme Court.

The panel, in a 2-1 vote, found the Republican-controlled legislature enacted a plan that dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide, impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats - and no political geography of the state or other state interest explains the discriminatory effect.

Although federal courts have previously ruled against redrawing voter districts in a way that disadvantages racial minorities, this is the first-ever federal ruling that a single-member district plan was drawn illegally for partisan advantage.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

"Back in the 1960's the Supreme Court made the decision that every district has to be pretty much the same size, one person one vote".

"If they had only allowed the lower court ruling to stand, then this would only have applied to Wisconsin. When there's no opposition in elections that means that more extreme candidates win and I think the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case because public opinion is really on the side of trying to do something about it". Last fall, the lower court ordered the Legislature to redraw its maps. Democratic voters are clustered in cities such as Milwaukee and Madison, while Republican voters are more evenly spread out.

Republicans have more to lose in next term's case because they control state legislatures in many more states than the Democrats do, and they stand to maximize that advantage again after the 2020 census.

Earlier this year, justices sided with Democrats and civil rights groups who challenged North Carolina maps, arguing that they unnecessarily packed African Americans into two districts.

Some suggest the most extreme examples of partisan gerrymandering can be found in states like MI, where Republicans have maintained majorities in the congressional delegation and the state legislature even though Democrats tend to win more votes. Said another way, Republicans control 77 percent of the seats, despite winning just 53 percent of the vote.

The Wisconsin case comes as Texas is fighting legal challenges to its own legislative maps. But the day of reckoning for partisan gerrymandering is long past due.

The Wisconsin redistricting case may have some of the answers to Justice Kennedy's concerns about inserting the courts into reviewing partisan gerrymandering.

The commission oversees redistricting for both state legislative offices and congressional districts. Now it's being argued as a first amendment case, that this is a violation of people's free speech and that's a relatively new argument that might hold some sway with the Supreme Court.

The Republicans add that the party in power typically creates districts that favor that party, and say Democrats have done the same thing in the past.

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