Supreme Court To Hear Gerrymandering Case

20 Juin, 2017, 17:17 | Author: Claudine Rigal
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Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says the Republican governor "is confident Wisconsin's redistricting process is constitutional and is pleased to see the Supreme Court take the case".

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a redistricting challenge from Wisconsin, but the arguments in that case are very similar to ones from a challenge against voter districts in North Carolina.

And it gives the court an opportunity to formally determine a metric on what constitutes unlawful gerrymandering, which could have major implications for the way voting districts are drawn in other states.

After adoption of the map, Republicans secured a 60-39 seat advantage in the Wisconsin State Assembly, while getting just 48.6 percent of the statewide vote. In 2012, Republicans won 53% of the vote but 72% of the House seats in states where they drew the lines. 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.

Last year, a three-judge federal court broke new ground when it ruled the map was unconstitutional because its "motivating factor" was an "intent to entrench a political party in power".

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Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN that this case could have "enormous ramifications". The court should take this opportunity to end this practice. But those instances hinged on racial makeup of districts, whereas the Wisconsin case hinges more explicitly on partisan gerrymandering. "The maps were in place and republicans gained seats in '12, '14, and '16", he said. Michigan's state Senate has 27 Republicans, 11 Democrats. Wisconsin Republicans dispute the assertion that they intentionally engineered a biased map, arguing that partisan skews in the map reflect a natural geographic advantage they have in redistricting as a result of Democrats clustering in cities while Republicans are spread out more evenly throughout the state. When the Supreme Court issues its ruling, it will be the first time a court has decided the key parameters around the drawing of district lines based on partisanship. The court also announced it will hear arguments in the case brought by Democrats challenging the constitutionality of the existing maps.

The state asked the Supreme Court to block that requirement on the assumption that the justices would hear its appeal in the 2017 term, which begins in October. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts. "We hope the Whitford case moves quickly so the maps can still be redrawn in time for a fair election to be held in 2018", wrote Sachin Cheda, spokesperson for the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit. The court will be pressed with the responsibility of deciding if partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution. It could alter the tradition of political parties redrawing voting districts for their political advantage. This case has the potential to help make Congress and state legislatures truly democratic, by ensuring that voters choose their representatives.

"Our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed", Schimel said. One such standard - dubbed the "efficiency gap" - counts the number of "wasted" votes for winning candidates in districts purposely packed with the opposition party's voters, as well as for losing candidates in districts where those voters were purposely scattered.

"We are disappointed in today's decision to stay the trial court interim remedy order, but we are still confident that the verdict will be upheld".

Twelve Republican-dominated states are supporting Wisconsin in its defense of the 2011 redistricting plan.

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