Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

US Supreme Court set to hear Wisconsin gerrymandering case

US Supreme Court set to hear Wisconsin gerrymandering case

If the Legislature is forced to draw new maps, they'd have to be more competitive, which would give Democrats a better shot at winning legislative seats than they have right now.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the appeal of a circuit court's ruling that declared Wisconsin's legislative maps unconstitutional.

Several election lawyers said it was unclear how far-reaching a Supreme Court ruling in the Wisconsin case might be, given that other election maps are being challenged at federal and state levels using different legal arguments. Republicans disagree. They say the maps reflect the population: districts are mainly blue, or Democratic, in urban areas, while districts elsewhere are mainly red, or Republican.

Although the court has ruled against state electoral maps due to racial gerrymandering, this could be the first case in which the court decides just how much partisan gerrymandering is too much.

"We have now five members of the U.S House of Representatives who are Democrats and nine who are Republicans, and yet when you look at more of the voting patterns... what we can see is that, given how the vote tends to turn out, the Republicans do have, at the moment, an advantage".

In a statement released Monday, Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel said the state's redistricting was constitutional.

Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit: "We've already had two federal courts declare the map unconstitutional in part or whole". The court ordered the state to redraw them by November 2018. The court's four liberal justices dissented from that order.

The Supreme Court has never struck down districts because they are unfairly partisan.

The case of Gill vs. Whitford is to be heard in the fall, and it could yield one of the most important rulings on political power in decades.

WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court Monday agreed to consider whether there are constitutional limits to how far lawmakers can go in drawing electoral districts to maximize partisan political advantage, a case that could have profound implications for US elections.

It's the first time in more than a decade that the nation's highest court will take up the issue of partisan gerrymandering, or drawing voting districts with the aim of strengthening one political party.

The case will be argued in the term that begins in October. 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. And "that work is proceeding". Legislatures consider factors like compactness, the principle of one-person-one-vote, geographic boundaries, county and city lines, and communities of interest in making these decisions.

In this case, Registered Democratic voters asserted that Republicans used two techniques, cracking and packing, to weaken the effect of Democratic votes state wide.

"The Supreme Court has the opportunity to ensure the maps in Wisconsin are drawn fairly, and further, has the opportunity to create ground rules that safeguard every citizen's right to freely choose their representatives", Smith said. "They simply haven't done it", says Josh Blackman, who teaches constitutional law at South Texas College of Law Houston.

Like this: