The Supreme Court Will Hear A Hugely Significant Gerrymandering Case From Wisconsin
Jun 20, 2017, 00:52
"Although a majority of the court has suggested that states can violate the Constitution if they draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, the justices have never been able to identify the specific point at which states cross the constitutional line", Professor Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas told CNN.
Employing the latest mapping technology, they created "a district plan that is one of the most extremely gerrymanderedstate legislative plans in the last four decades", a statement from the Campaign Legal Center says.
Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. Although Republicans and Democrats split the vote in the 2016 general election, the GOP has a 2-1 advantage in the state legislature. The court also put on hold any redrawing of maps while the case is pending. As Yale Law School dean Heather Gerken noted in a Vox piece following the initial district court decision, a gap above that amount indicates that the disadvantaged party "would have nearly no chance of taking control of the legislature during the 10-year districting cycle". Even former President Barack Obama has vowed to fight against the practice's misuses and abuses during his post-presidency, though the Supreme Court of the United States may beat him to the punch. In our stay application, I argued that requiring the Legislature to re-draw district maps this year would have been a waste of resources. So this stay order raises a big question mark for those who think Court will use the case to rein in partisan gerrymandering.
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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. If Democrats come up just short in a lot of other districts, they're saying they wasted those votes as well.
The Supreme Court agrees to take on accusations of gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The lower court did devise a constitutional formula for judging when a partisan gerrymander did go too far.
Democrats do likewise where they control the line-drawing process, such as in Illinois, Maryland and MA.
The challengers in the Wisconsin case argued that the state's electoral map was carefully drawn so that the GOP was virtually guaranteed to control the Legislature for the entire decade. Kennedy joined in that narrow ruling by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who noted in her opinion that Kennedy previously labeled partisan gerrymanders "incompatible with democratic principles". A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional past year. State and federal legislative district boundaries are reconfigured every decade after the census so that each one holds about same number of people. On Monday, it was clear that these Justices favored that action, although the order did not name them explicitly; Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.
A recent study from the Brennan Center found that gerrymandering has resulted in 16 or 17 additional Republican seats in Congress, or about two-thirds of the 24 seats Democrats would need to take over the House.
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