Supreme Court to hear major challenge to partisan gerrymandering

Supreme Court to hear major challenge to partisan gerrymandering

But the Supreme Court has always been tolerant of partisan gerrymandering - and some justices have thought that the court shouldn't even be involved.

Wisconsin has been dealing with the problem of their district lines for several years. The state has appealed a lower court ruling, which found that state Republican lawmakers had violated the constitution when they drew up legislative districts to disadvantage the Democrats. Republicans argue that the results of the districts are hard to keep equal since Democrats tend to congregate together in the big cities.

A Supreme Court ruling faulting the Wisconsin redistricting plan could have far-reaching consequences for the redrawing of electoral districts due after the 2020 USA census. The citizens who are challenging redistricting in Wisconsin specifically designed this case to win over "swing" conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who said he would be open to re-examining excessive partisan gerrymandering if a reasonable standard to measure it could be established.

Gerrymandering, a old political art form "as old as the United States itself", King says, is the idea of drawing district lines by structuring them geographically so that they benefit one party or another.

A nonpartisan redistricting process is not only fair and impartial, it also would cost taxpayers far less than than the two million tax dollars and counting used to draw and defend the current maps.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case that challenges partisan gerrymandering, and whether the districting that generally aids Republican candidates is unconstitutional. The "narrowest" GOP victor was in the Thirteenth District, with first-time Republican Ted Budd receiving 56 percent-one point above what most political scientists would consider a "competitive" range of 45 to 55 percent.

After winning control of the state legislature in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans redrew the statewide electoral map.

Chief Justice John Roberts (second from right) and Justice Neil Gorsuch (center) walk down the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., last week. The redrawn map was rejected as unconstitutional, a first in 30 years. In 2014, the party garnered 52 percent of the vote and 63 Assembly seats.

Paul Smith, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said gerrymandering "is worse now than any time in recent memory". In November 2016 a three-judge federal panel ruled in favor of Whitford, finding that Wisconsin's maps did unfairly favor the state's Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown even pointed to the district of Gov. Roy Cooper - then Senator Cooper - which jutted away from Nash County into parts of Halifax, Edgecombe, and Wilson counties. Cracking, or spreading, Democratic voters across districts in which Republicans have small majorities wastes all of the Democratic votes when the Republican candidate wins. By placing all the Democrats into a few districts, the votes over the 50.1 percent line are deemed "wasted votes" and are in a sense pointless.

Their lawsuit claimed that Republicans spread Democrats thin among some districts so that they could not achieve a majority.

Indeed, one of the defenses made by Wisconsin officials is that their districts are compact.

Gerrymandering is a term nearly as old as American democracy.



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