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Court Appears Divided in High-Stakes Gerrymandering Case
December 16 2017, 02:55 | Van Peters
For the first time, the Supreme Court seems receptive to putting limits on partisan gerrymanders
That effort will require an amendment to the state constitution, a lengthy process that involves passing the Legislature in two separate sessions prior to a voter referendum. Counsel for the United States argued the right to proceed in court or arbitration as a class or collective group exists not by virtue of the NLRA, but rather, by other procedural litigation laws, such as Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which do allow for waiver of these class or collective procedures. Some advocates have suggested a two-seat threshold for congressional maps, meaning politics could bend a map that far without verging into constitutional trouble. Unlike previous maps that have been challenged as too partisan (such as Pennsylvania's congressional map last decade and Indiana's legislative map three decades ago), the maps in this Wisconsin case don't rely on freakish shapes.
In a heated, hour-long debate about the very building blocks of American democracy - districts drawn by politicians, for politicians - it was Kennedy's relative silence that seemed to speak volumes.
"As this case illustrates, it's now possible even in a 50/50 state like Wisconsin to draw a district map that is so reliably and extremely biased that it effectively decides in advance who's going to control the legislative body for the entire decade..."
It seems to me you're making distinctions without a difference. It could have big impacts on who you vote for moving forward. In fact, a Supreme Court nominee was rejected in 1987 simply because he had previously used marijuana. "And if you're the intelligent man on the street and the" Supreme Court "issues a decision, and let's say the Democrats win, that person will say: 'Well, why did the Democrats win?'"
Freitag said it could take several months for the court's ruling to come down. Mr Kennedy did not join his colleagues' attack on the social sciences. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals then found in favor of Murphy, leading the case to the Supreme Court.
The newcomer on the court, Gorsuch, will also be under the microscope in his first full session. Over the summer, Ginsburg told an audience at a Duke Law school event that the Gill v. Whitford case was perhaps "the most important grant so far".
Kennedy was undeterred: "I'd like an answer to the question". That could lead to changes in political maps across the country. As a result, the party favored by a minority of voters can attain and hold a permanent majority.
Justice Chandrachud observed, "The (former) President of Supreme Court Bar Association said on electronic media (during a debate on the transfer of Karnataka High Court Judge Jayant Patel to Allahabad High Court) that the Supreme Court was dominated by pro-government judges". The problem is if the court should police the practice and if so is there a workable standard the court can apply? That's because gerrymandered legislatures entrench not just themselves but members of the U.S. House along highly partisan lines for a decade or more.
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch said a court-approved formula for identifying unconstitutional gerrymandering would be hard to achieve, comparing various standards proposed to spices on a steak dinner. At the heart of the issue is whether the common techniques of "cracking and packing" - diluting an opposing party's clout by either spreading its supporters out to prevent a majority on the district level (cracking) or concentrating them in fewer districts (packing) - has a discriminatory effect. Ironically, however, a ruling in their favor could help the GOP in the next round of redistricting. Did the redistricting demonstrate an intent to discriminate against a rival party?
Gerrymandering occurs when voting districts are redrawn to benefit one party over another in elections, forcing the other side to "waste" votes.
Former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder have both taken up the cause.
New maps will be drawn up following the 2020 census.
But the issue is not just one for Democrats. A majority of the public - as well as almost half of Republicans - want the Supreme Court to strike down districts drawn to give a lopsided advantage to the party in power.
A similar case is brewing in Maryland, but it was brought by Republicans.