Supreme Court Ruling in Gerrymandering Case Would Have Far-Reaching Effects

Supreme Court Ruling in Gerrymandering Case Would Have Far-Reaching Effects

The Supreme Court has never struck down districts because they are unfairly partisan.

The Supreme Court will take up a fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance between Democrats and Republicans in many states.

"That composes a burden on the people of Wisconsin as the federal panel said because we've been living under these unconstitutional maps now for 5-6 years".

The Supreme Court had discussed the case at its June 8 and June 15 conferences, according to the court's docket on the case.

The Supreme Court is putting the redrawing of Wisconsin legislative districts on hold while the justices consider the issue of partisan gerrymandering. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives. It demanded that the legislature draw new district lines by this November.

"The decision in this case will likely set the path for redistricting in 2020 and beyond".

Paul Smith, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said gerrymandering "is worse now than any time in recent memory".

But the fifth and decisive vote was cast by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who left the door open to revisiting the issue if a manageable test could be found for evaluating how much is too much partisanship.

It's a case North Carolinians are keeping a close eye on, since a similar court battle is brewing here. The ruling was the first time in over three decades that a federal court invalidated a redistricting plan for partisan bias.

"As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed", Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

The team working on behalf of the Democratic voters contends that it has found a way to measure unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders created to give a "large and durable" advantage in elections to one party - a measure that the Supreme Court has said was lacking in previous cases contending a partisan gerrymander.

Gerrymandering is the practice of one party packing as many voters of the other party into the fewest districts possible.

In 2012, Republicans won 48.6 percent of the statewide vote for Assembly candidates but captured 60 of the Assembly's 99 seats. Their test, known as the "efficiency gap", focuses on how frequently votes in a particular district are effectively wasted, either because they go to a candidate who loses or because they provide the victor with more support than was necessary.

The officials said in their appeal that the Republican advantage was a reflection of the concentration of Democrats in urban areas, as well as the benefits of GOP incumbency.

"In 2004, a four-member Supreme Court plurality all but ruled out challenges to even extreme partisan gerrymanders, while four members of the court would have allowed some limited challenges".