Supreme Court to review partisan redistricting

Supreme Court to review partisan redistricting

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal this fall of a lower court ruling that struck down Wisconsin's Republican-drawn state Assembly map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

While the high court has suggested states can unconstitutionally draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, King said, the point at which states cross the constitutional line has never been specified.

Shortly following the panel's decision, the state of Wisconsin appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for one of the most consequential cases on the Supreme Court docket this year.

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. He said: "I am thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request to review the redistricting decision and that Wisconsin will have an opportunity to defend its redistricting process".

The original case, Gill v. Whitford , was prompted after GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin in 2010, having recently taken hold of both the state legislature and governorship, drew up their new hyper-partisan, gerrymandered State Assembly electoral map. For example, in 2012, the Republican Party received about 49 percent of the vote but won 60 of the 99 seats in the state Assembly.

The judges said the redrawing violated constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law and free speech by undercutting the ability of Democratic voters to turn their votes into seats in the Wisconsin state legislature.

Wisconsin Democrats are concerned that redistricting practices, such as the plan that took place in their state in 2011, could violate voters' democratic rights. And the reverse applies in Democrat states, although they are fewer in number. The court's ruling could have broad implications for redistricting in states across the nation come 2020. They also say they have a natural edge in redistricting, since Democrats tend to cluster in cities and suburbs, creating districts that overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Four others - only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer remain of this group - said such challenges could be heard by the court, but disagreed on the method.

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In that case, Kennedy voted to uphold disputed congressional districts in Pennsylvania, saying the challengers hadn't provided a workable standard for determining whether partisanship played too big a role.

This Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, may shy away from such an outcome.

But Wisconsin officials defended the legislature's work and called on the justices to undo the lower-court ruling.

Yet if the Court reverses the Wisconsin panel's decision and once again rules that there are no judicial tests available to stop partisan gerrymandering, then we can expect ever more egregiously partisan redistricting. It is time for the Supreme Court to declare that it is wrong when a majority of the voters in a state favor one set of policies, but partisan district boundaries mean that a majority of their representatives are opposed to those policies.

For many years, USA legislators have been gerrymandering-manipulating the borders of electoral districts to favor their own party. They said the federal court overstepped its bounds and judges should stay out of an inherently political exercise.

In a second order, the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote granted a request from Schimel to block a requirement that Wisconsin draw new maps by November 1. In other states, bipartisan commissions draw districts in an effort to reduce gerrymandering. Until now, he hasn't found one.

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