US Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments For Gerrymandering Case

US Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments For Gerrymandering Case”

"In a case that is expected to have sweeping implications for American democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Wisconsin's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme violates the Constitution by manipulating the outcome of elections and entrenching the political power of the incumbent party against the will of the voters". In the 2012 election-the first with the new maps drawn by Republicans-the party lost the popular vote in the assembly races but maintained 60 seats.

The court will face a stark choice: allow politicians to continue rigging the rules of the game to their own advantage, harming voters in the process, or allow courts to police and correct the worst partisan power grabs from the redistricting process.

Under a proposed "efficiency gap", if a political party "wastes" too many of its votes due to the way districts are drawn, a map is invalid. As it now stands, the groups who control the map-drawing process can help to sustain their dominance and engineer the political agenda. Republicans have picked up more seats in the years since, now holding 64.

"So, if the legislatures decide to institute a gerrymander, the Supreme Court can rule those unconstitutional", Cho said, "and, in this case, Gill v. Whitfford, the court could potentially decide that they're not going to hear partisan gerrymander cases ever again".

Throughout U.S. history, Republicans and Democrats have used the redistricting process to boost their political clout when they had the opportunity. Supreme Court justices have agreed in theory that extreme political gerrymanders are incompatible with democratic principles.

Wisconsin's electoral map, drawn after the 2010 US census, enabled Republicans to win a sizable majority of Wisconsin legislative seats despite losing the popular vote statewide to the Democrats. In that 2004 case, the justices split in their findings: four justices ruled that claims of partisan gerrymandering are purely "political questions" that the federal courts should not entertain; four justices offered different standards to measure the worst abuses in partisan gerrymandering; and Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the middle, said that he could not agree with any of the offered tests but would leave the door open for a future standard to emerge.

But he added that partisan gerrymandering amplified that advantage.

"The hope in this case is to persuade Justice Kennedy that political scientists have come up with better metrics and models", says Whitford.

Because Republicans control more state legislatures after their nationwide gains in 2010, they now have more to lose if the high court adopts first-ever partisan limits on redistricting. When the case comes before the court, he and his colleagues should be ready to apply it. It also says the character of Wisconsin's districts were based in large part on geography, with Democrats more concentrated in cities and Republicans spread more consistently around the rest of the state.

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