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September 25 2017, 02:53 | Rex Rios
What Is Gerrymandering? Supreme Court to Hear Potentially Landmark Case
The Supreme Court announced Monday it will consider if politically gerrymandered electoral maps in Wisconsin are unconstitutional, which could have a major impact on USA elections.
The order indicates the districts that sued plan to challenge the constitutionality of the new law.
"In the past it's been thrown out because it's been in violation of voting rights or civil rights laws, but gerrymandering has always been considered somewhat of a partisan exercise", he explains.
The Supreme Court will hear the case next term. We proved in federal court that Democrats and Republicans are pretty evenly clustered throughout the state and that Democrats in Wisconsin have had their rights violated. Instead, legislative leaders openly boasted they would gerrymander purely along partisan lines to unfairly give Republicans maximum advantage, as Lewis is shown doing in the video below. Voters shut out of power by that state's partisan gerrymander presented a new neutral statistical standard (called the "efficiency gap") to a three-judge district court panel. Wisconsin Republicans played the electoral map to get similar results - "majorities" with less than 50% of the votes cast.
"Wisconsin's gerrymander was one of the most aggressive of the decade, locking in a large and implausibly stable majority for Republicans in what is otherwise a battleground state", said Brennan Center redistricting expert Thomas Wolf.
The high court case could affect pending legal disputes over Republican-drawn maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and a Democratic-drawn map in Maryland.
"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". He was unhappy with a lower court's ruling, which declared the maps unconstitutional. In addition, the case is getting attention because in recent years the court has considered racial inequities in political maps - but not the issue of how much partisan gerrymandering is reasonable. This case has the potential to help make Congress and state legislatures truly democratic, by ensuring that voters choose their representatives.
The challengers to the Wisconsin districts say it is an extreme example of redistricting that has led to ever-increasing polarization in American politics because so few districts are genuinely competitive between the parties.
The Wisconsin redistricting case may have some of the answers to Justice Kennedy's concerns about inserting the courts into reviewing partisan gerrymandering.
"The number of Democrats and Republicans is about the same, but the state assembly leans heavily toward Republicans because of how the lines were drawn", he says.
In its order Monday, the court said it will hear oral arguments from both sides on Tuesday, July 18.
The Supreme Court is wading into the thicket of partisan redistricting in a case from Wisconsin.
Voters will be caught in the middle, with many of them being faced with potentially new and different representation because of changes to the districts they now live in.
However, one justice, who joined the majority's opinion, wrote that while there was no judicial standard by which to judge when a district was politically manipulated through gerrymandering, he would "not foreclose all possibility of judicial relief if some limited and precise rationale were found" to adjudicate the issue of partisan gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is often utilized by Republicans, whose voters tend to be in more spread out rural areas than Democrats who tend to collect in cities.