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Supreme Court Will Hear Gerrymandering Case
20 June 2017, 05:13 | Marion Schneider
Courtesy Barnett for Kansas
The vote to stay this order suggests that five members of the Supreme Court are leaning in the direction of doing nothing about Wisconsin's gerrymander.
The defendants in this case, Gill v. Whitford, claim to have come up with such a standard.
"The Supreme Court is a pretty big planet, and its gravitational pull is pretty strong", said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who tracks redistricting cases on his All About Redistricting website.
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 2014, 52 percent of the vote yielded 63 seats. Judge Kenneth F. Ripple of the three-judge Federal District Court stated that the lines were "designed to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats". The court should take this opportunity to end this practice. That would preserve the status quo and leave the battle over the perceived ills of partisan gerrymandering to politicians and voters.
After winning control of the state legislature in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans redrew the statewide electoral map and approved the redistricting plan in 2011.
Schimel is a Republican who is defending the maps. Democrats accuse republicans of gerrymandering - drawing the lines in such a manner that makes it almost impossible for Democrats to win.
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In May, the Supreme Court struck down two districts in North Carolina, affirming a lower court's decision that the Republican-controlled legislature drew the map to dilute the influence of African-American voters. 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 same was the case for some Republican-dominated districts where there wasn't a Democrat challenger in the most recent general election.
The Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. The case could have a major impact on how district lines are drawn up nationwide. However, the Supreme Court has chose to take on the controversial issue starting in October. While these districts have allowed minorities to pick their representatives, they have had the unintended outcome of limiting minority influence in other districts by packing them into one.
The high court is expected to hear arguments this fall on the state's appeal of the federal judicial panel's January ruling, which threw out the Republican maps. The court will be pressed with the responsibility of deciding if partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution. They achieved this by packing likely Democratic voters into three districts, while spreading likely Republican voters across 10 districts.
Four justices - only Justice Clarence Thomas remains of that group - said it was not the court's business to make such decisions.
The report states that the committee's plan was to control the redistricting process in states such as Wisconsin, where they spent $1.1 million to gain control of the state Senate and the state Assembly, according to the report.
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