Supreme Court takes on new case from Wisconsin on partisan redistricting

Supreme Court takes on new case from Wisconsin on partisan redistricting

So this stay order raises a big question mark for those who think Court will use the case to rein in partisan gerrymandering.

The case will be argued in the fall.

The Wisconsin case might serve as a landmark decision if the court rules against partisan districting.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a redistricting challenge from Wisconsin, but the arguments in that case are very similar to ones from a challenge against voter districts in North Carolina.

The Constitution mandates decennial reapportionment and redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts to reflect population shifts.

The word "Gerry-Mander" is more than 200 years old, with the Boston Gazette publishing the term in 1812 to describe then-Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry's attempt to manipulate the state's map to benefit his party. American voters of all parties are entitled to fair elections and nonpartisan redistricting. And if a Democrat got a lot of votes there, but they only get one seat, they're saying that they wasted a lot of votes to get those seats.

"Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory", said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation and strategy at the center. They say the federal court overstepped its bounds and judges should stay out of an inherently political exercise. "As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed".

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review.

That is why the Supreme Court has an important role to play.

What's different this time from past Supreme Court clashes is the existence of data-driven models to measure election results against other factors.

But of the five justices in that majority, only two, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Anthony Kennedy, remain. Though a "workable standard" defining it did not exist, he suggested one might emerge in a future case. But while they have also complained more broadly about the map diluting Democratic votes, the lack of Supreme Court action on the issue has limited the strength of any argument on those grounds.

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The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a closely watched challenge to partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and decide whether it is unconstitutional for party leaders to entrench themselves in power with carefully drawn electoral maps.

What the Republicans did is called gerrymandering, a centuries-old practice of creating legislative districts that favor one party over another.

The voters who are challenging the plan, led by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, argue that the map allowed Wisconsin's state Assembly to not resemble the electorate in a closely divided swing state that has supported presidential candidates from both parties and now has one Democrat and one Republican representing it in the U.S. Senate.

The redistricting process in Wisconsin also had support from outside conservative groups. Cities do it for city council districts.

The US high court's decision to hear the Wisconsin case was welcomed by advocates of boundary reform.

Democrats maintain that the GOP has used its control of state legislatures to give Republicans an unfair grip on power in the House of Representatives.

"As a result, in the first election under the plan", the statement continues, "Republicans won a supermajority of 60 out of 99 seats despite losing the statewide vote for the Assembly".

In its 2-1 decision in November, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin said the Wisconsin plan was discriminatory in both intent and effect and could not be explained by the natural political spread of voters or a legitimate state interest. "In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line".

Gerrymandering has become more precise as computer software has become more sophisticated, enabling map-makers to divide counties, cities and even neighborhoods to maximize their political advantage. They are not oddly shaped and do not look like a classic gerrymander.

The Supreme Court has increasingly overturned redrawn electoral maps because they were created to reduce the influence of racial minorities, according to the Washington Post.

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