The Supreme Court Isn't Done With Gerrymandering Yet


The chief justice acknowledged that other legal theories might allow proof of harm focused on the entire state rather than on a single voting district. This issue is certain to come back to the Supreme Court soon, perhaps as early as next term.

The Supreme Court may yet one day strike down the Wisconsin map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, but more delay is essentially a victory for Wisconsin Republicans, helping them maintain their control of the state assembly. While all nine Justices agreed that the Wisconsin plaintiffs did not have standing for a broad challenge, the four liberal justices signed a concurring opinion by Justice Elena Kagan that likely foreshadows the next round of redistricting challenges. To bring a claim that a gerrymandered map dilutes votes, Roberts wrote, a plaintiff has to demonstrate that he or she resides in a district whose lines were unconstitutionally manipulated, such as by packing voters into districts in which they will win in a huge landslide or cracking them into districts in which they will perennially be outvoted.

But, Roberts wrote, "This is not the usual case". Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, from office. And while the court did not close the door on eventual review of partisan gerrymanders, it put out no welcome mat.

"Here, the plaintiffs' partisan gerrymandering claims turn on allegations that their votes have been diluted", wrote Chief Justice Roberts. The next one likely to be heard by the Supreme Court is the notorious North Carolina gerrymander. The measures include a 2015 right-to-work law and cuts to public education. The Missouri legislature also nullified St. Louis's and Kansas City's minimum wage increases.

But the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), which filed an amicus brief in the case, suggested that plaintiffs will have a hard time moving forward. No matter how much the country as a whole moves toward them - and away from Trump - between now and 2021, the party simply can not afford to be shut out of the redistricting process in as many states as it was eight years ago.

"We have evidence and findings of individual harm in every district", Smith said.

"But of one thing we may unfortunately be sure".

Partisan gerrymandering does nothing to help democracy. But the court didn't rule on the constitutinality question surrounding the claims of illegal partisan gerrymandering in the Wisconsin redistricting cast.

Technicalities are important, as is effectively arguing a case, but the court's deference to lower courts failed to address the root issue - the court continues to evade this topic. It took up two cases, one from Wisconsin, and the other from Maryland.

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Pennsylvania has been embroiled in it's own battle over partisan gerrymandering. "But while it's disappointing to see the Court punt, the decisions aren't losses".

The plaintiffs saw the case as the vehicle to move the high court to, for the first time, invalidate a voting district because of a partisan gerrymander.

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"This is definitely not the end of the road", said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project which organized and brought the lawsuit.

The court on Monday handed down a similar decision in Benisek v. Lamone, a case out of Maryland in which Republican voters argued that Democratic officials had redrawn its Sixth Congressional District in an effort to beat the Republican incumbent, former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. John McCain, R-Ariz. They were joined by state legislators, political scientists, and historians. If the current districts are, in fact, constitutional and fair, then using a different, more constitutional method to draw up fair districts wouldn't change them. The GOP-run OH legislature packed all the Democrats in the purple swing state into two districts around Cleveland and one each elsewhere in northeast OH and in Columbus.

Representative Lewis and other Republican lawmakers have defended their congressional map by saying it splits fewer counties and avoids the severely contorted boundaries that were common under maps drawn since the 1990s by both Democrats and Republicans.

Several other states, including Arizona, Iowa, and California, also have non-partisan congressional redistricting commissions. It is also the goal of the Democrats who worked to elected a State Supreme Court that then replaced partisan Democratic districts instead of Republican districts - setting a risky precedent of both National Parties putting all their money into a few State Supreme Court races to determine who then takes over legislatures.

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