Reaction to court’s decision to hear redistricting case

There have been cases heard in the past regarding the method in which political boundaries are drawn, but Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin says this time it’s different.

The dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn election districts for the state legislature could enable Democrats to eliminate GOP-majority districts throughout the country, if challengers prevail. In 2014, the party garnered 52 percent of the vote and 63 state Assembly seats.

The panel, in a 2-1 vote, found the Republican-controlled legislature enacted a plan that dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide, impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats – and no political geography of the state or other state interest explains the discriminatory effect.

“Hyper-partisan gerrymandering is an attack on our democracy”.

Democrats in Maryland drew plenty of crazily shaped districts to help their party in 2011 – its Third District has been likened to a “praying mantis” – but a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s last round of redistricting is focused on one: the Sixth District, which yoked Democratic voters from the Washington suburbs to Republican voters in the rural west of the state. The Supreme Court will deal with Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling and will discuss the issue of gerrymandering, or manipulating electoral districts in order to favor a specific political party. The ruling was the first time in over three decades that a federal court invalidated a redistricting plan for partisan bias.

The team working on behalf of the Democratic voters contends that it has found a way to measure unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders created to give a “large and durable” advantage in elections to pone party – a measure that the Supreme Court has said was lacking in previous cases contending a partisan gerrymander.

The issue will be briefed and argued in the Supreme Court term that begins in October. In part, it seeks to tally the number of “wasted votes” in districts that would give an advantage to one party: for example, packing Democrats into one district where a Democrat is elected in a landslide while Republicans in nearby districts win by narrow margins.

The redistricting process in Wisconsin also had support from outside conservative groups. He says the redistricting process was “entirely lawful and constitutional”.

Gerrymandering is often utilized by Republicans, whose voters tend to be in more spread out rural areas than Democrats who tend to collect in cities.

By its order, the Supreme Court has apparently chose to take the case in its next term, calling it officially a postponement of a decision on jurisdiction.

Wisconsin’s attorney general appealed to the Supreme Court.

So this stay order raises a big question mark for those who think Court will use the case to rein in partisan gerrymandering. However, Republicans ended up receiving five out of the eight Congressional seats because of district lines in the state that had been redrawn in secret just a year earlier.

Smith said a victory for the plaintiffs would “be to really affect the way the legislators in all of the states draw their maps next time in 2021 because they will know there’s a much-enhanced risk of the map being thrown out and they would much more likely try to minimize the degree of bias in the maps”.

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to tackle partisan gerrymandering and sort through arguments about whether an electoral system is rigged or, instead, a party’s political advantage is due to changing attitudes and demographics.