Supreme Court punts on two cases regarding partisan election districts

Posted June 23, 2018

Since ruling in 1986 that overly partisan gerrymandering could cross a constitutional line, the Supreme Court has never set a legal standard for where that line is, and at least three justices on the court now have signaled the view that such inherently political decisions as redistricting ought not be touched by the courts.

Proceedings will continue in lower courts in both cases.

Gaddie was hired by Wisconsin Republicans in the course of drawing the state's legislative maps, but, in 2017, he filed a friend of the court brief against the Republicans in the Supreme Court case. The Wisconsin challengers argued that extreme gerrymandering deprived Democratic Party voters of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution, while the Maryland challengers contended that the gerrymander there deprived Republicans of their First Amendment rights by making their speech, their votes, less valuable.

Using Nate's Republican program, the GOP could draw districts that - even in a year in which voters shifted Democratic and all swing districts went Democratic - would leave Republicans likely to hold 275 districts, thus holding Congress by an astounding 57 more votes than they needed. Now, any ruling on the constitutionality of extreme political gerrymanders will have to wait, and the contested maps will remain in place for the time being.

Its plaintiffs argued that Republicans diluted Democratic votes by funneling as many Democrats as possible into a few districts that they'd win overwhelmingly, thereby lowering their concentration elsewhere to maximize Republican gains in other parts of the state. They had sued over a lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction against the district boundary drawn by Democrats in 2011. That will now happen.

Democrats had challenged the districts in a case that includes plaintiffs in each of the state's 13 congressional districts.

"Courts have a critical role to play in curbing partisan gerrymandering", Kagan wrote in her opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the Wisconsin decision, said the case was flawed because it was about "group political interests, not individual legal rights". But, Roberts wrote, "This is not the usual case". But that ruling concerned only whether those who challenged the districts had standing to sue.

"This is definitely not the end of the road", said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project which organized and brought the lawsuit. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court argued that anti-discriminatory provisions of the Voting Rights Act targeting states that had historically disenfranchised voters were no longer necessary.

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Malta refused , and when Italy instructed the ship to stay at sea, Malta accused Italy of violating worldwide norms. Earlier in the day, the European Commission had urged action. "We are talking about people".

Yes we always had gerrymandering - but it was not until the precision of computers that it reached a point that made people give up on their democracy.

With the support of Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer, Justice Elena Kagan issued a concurring opinion that outlined something of a roadmap for how to build tighter cases around partisan gerrymandering going forward. To recap, the state went Republican for the first time since 1984, and Hillary Clinton caught heat for not campaigning in Wisconsin at all during the general election. Republican state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who defended the maps, had no immediate comment but promised to have a reaction after reading the ruling.

Split-ticket voting often occurs in Wisconsin, undermining the Democrats' underlying argument.

He said the court has similarly decided that "a plaintiff who alleges that he is the object of a racial gerrymander - a drawing of district lines on the basis of race - has standing to assert only that his own district has been so gerrymandered".

The Efficiency Gap was supposed to solve that problem. They also called on the court to decide the issue once and for all. "We need to find a way to make sure there's nonpartisan redistricting with every census throughout the country, '" Wickstrom said.

The justices left the door open for future challenges to partisan gerrymanders.

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, would have dismissed the cases outright rather than sending them back to the lower courts.

The very Americans who are exhausted of being pawns in purely partisan plays and giving up on our system need to be the goal of redistricting.

There is a pending challenge of North Carolina's redistricting efforts that could provide another case for the justices to consider the issue. But, in unanimous decisions, the court avoided the key constitutional question at stake in these cases: How much politics is too much when determining voting districts?

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