Reaction to court's decision to hear redistricting case

20 June, 2017, 00:50 | Author: Archie Newman
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While the Supreme Court has ruled on many aspects of the districting process - banning state legislative districts with unequal populations and banning districts meant to disenfranchise black voters - it has issued muddled opinions on the question of whether partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional.

Voters in Georgia's 6th congressional district head to the polls Tuesday to vote in a special election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is taking on a case about partisan advantage in redistricting that could affect elections across the United States. Specifically, the case will be heard during the Supreme Court term which begins in October.

Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a partisan gerrymander in Pennsylvania was constitutional and that it was not within the purview of the court to strike it down.

It is a common practice for state legislatures to redraw voting districts to confer an advantage on the governing party.

The court's decision does not address a request by state Attorney General Brad Schimel to delay enforcement of the lower court panel order that requires new Assembly boundaries be drawn up by November 2017, before the 2018 elections.

The federal court that struck down the districts adopted an equation that offers a way to measure the partisan nature of the districts.

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In a possible sign of deep ideological divisions among the nine justices over the issue, the court's conservative majority granted Wisconsin's request, despite opposition from the four liberal justices, to put on hold the lower court's order requiring the state to redraw its electoral maps by November 1. 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. As measured by this "efficiency gap", Republicans can increase the number of the districts they control by stuffing Democratic voters into already Democratic districts.

"That's a message to other states that they also need to prevent partisanship from going too far", Burden said.

This is the first time in more than ten years that the justices will consider allegations of gerrymandering - and observers see the their final ruling as one which impact how elections are run throughout the nation.

A three-judge court struck down the districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander and ordered new ones to be put in place for the 2018 elections. On Monday, it was clear that these Justices favored that action, although the order did not name them explicitly; Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

The challenge to Wisconsin's legislative lines are different because the challenge revolves around whether district lines can be drawn for a partisan advantage. He said on Monday that Wisconsin's "redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed".

"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".

The Supreme Court has been willing to invalidate state electoral maps on the grounds of racial discrimination, as it did on May 22 when it found that Republican legislators in North Carolina had drawn two electoral districts to diminish the statewide political clout of black voters.

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