Supreme Court Will Hear Landmark Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case

Posted June 24, 2017

The lower court agreed that this was exactly the type of standard that the Supreme Court was talking about, and it struck down the state redistricting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The court also put on hold any redrawing of maps while the case is pending.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities.

"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.

The case will be argued in the fall.

Last year, a divided three-judge Federal District Court panel ruled that Republicans had gone too far.

Wisconsin's attorney general appealed to the Supreme Court.

Congressional districts are redrawn by state legislatures.

Where did the term "gerrymandering" originate? The term comes from a Massachusetts state Senate district that resembled a salamander and was approved in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry. The decision could reshape American political battles for generations to come. "Whitford-Order.pdf" class="local_link" order issued shortly after the justices left the bench this morning, the Supreme Court agreed to do so. "The right and freedom of every citizen to meaningfully participate in choosing who works for them in the legislature must be protected and I am hopeful that our highest court will do that by finding what politicians did in Wisconsin is unconstitutional", said Sen.

Schimel is a Republican who is defending the maps.

And it gives the court an opportunity to formally determine a metric on what constitutes unlawful gerrymandering, which could have major implications for the way voting districts are drawn in other states. "I am pleased that the Court granted our request on this important issue".

The Supreme Court may devise a better test.

The Supreme Court is wading into the thicket of partisan redistricting in a case from Wisconsin. In that case and again in 2006, Kennedy didn't find one.

Their lawsuit claimed that Republicans spread Democrats thin among some districts so that they could not achieve a majority. The Whitford team has proposed using a data-driven method called an "efficiency gap" to calculate whether districts are being drawn in a way that unfairly favors one party. Both political parties do it when they can. Packing is when a party's voters are concentrated in few districts that they win overwhelmingly. Let's say you have a strongly Democratic district. Cities do it for city council districts. As Johnson said, then-President Obama did well in the state when he was re-elected in 2012, and "yet Democrats gained no seats in the Legislature, remained deeply in the minority". In 2014 and 2016, Republicans extended their statehouse advantage to 63 and then 64 seats even though the statewide vote remained almost tied.

"This has become such a big problem in the USA, we have been so bitterly partisan divided over the last decade or so and the redistribution process has been one of the things that people point to when we talk about why we are so bitterly divided". In other states, bipartisan commissions draw districts in an effort to reduce gerrymandering. They are not oddly shaped and do not look like a classic gerrymander.