February 22, 2018

From Gerrymandering to Gay Rights, Supreme Court Faces 'Blockbuster' Term

06 October 2017, 12:24 | Austin Hogan

Supreme Court hears gerrymandering case stemming out of Wisconsin

Supreme Court

The name comes from Elbridge Gerry, a founding father, the fifth vice president of the United States, and the governor of MA, who signed a bill that created the first curiously misshapen district in the state designed to elect Democratic-Republicans over Federalists in 1812.

He added that the fastest way the case could be heard is by filing a "King's Bench" petition that could potentially send the case directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Justice Kennedy questioned the NLRB's counsel whether the arbitration agreements at issue truly prohibit employees' right to engage in concerted activity, noting that employees could still work together to obtain the same counsel, share information, and strategize about their cases; they were merely prohibited from joining their cases and litigating collectively. "And if you're the intelligent man on the street and the" Supreme Court "issues a decision, and let's say the Democrats win, that person will say: 'Well, why did the Democrats win?'"

It is neither judicially right or democratically wise for Republican justices to continue to vote along party lines in ways that advantage partisan Republicans by failing to protect the integrity of the right of Americans to vote, the integrity of financing the elections they vote in and the integrity of the districts in which they vote.

The subject before the court, in a case brought by Wisconsin Democrats against Wisconsin Republicans, challenges the constitutionality of political gerrymandering.

Stern concluded the Court would allow gerrymandering to stand, while Howe, Liptak, and Scherer opined that gerrymandering could very well be in its dying days.

How has that worked out in Wisconsin? They redrew the legislative district lines so that 49 percent of the voters elected Republicans to 60 of the 99 Assembly seats. At one point, he asked one of them to imagine that a state passed a law saying its election maps will always "favor party X or party Y. Is that constitutional?" he asked.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Wisconsin case Tuesday.

Does partisan gerrymandering violate the Constitution?

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Although Kennedy did not tip his hand, he had no questions for a lawyer challenging Wisconsin.

Excessively partisan redistricting is fundamentally unethical, anti-democratic and un-American. At the same time, the Justices recognized that it was hard to craft a solution to the problem; Chief Justice John Roberts was especially wary of asking the courts to use "sociological gobbledygook" to weigh the propriety of district lines.

"We will have to decide in every case whether the Democrats win or the Republicans win, " Roberts said.

News flash for the chief justice: the standing of the court flew out the window long ago. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to uphold the gerrymander, said he "would not foreclose" the possibility of relief "if some limited and precise rationale were found to correct an established violation of the Constitution in some redistricting cases".

"Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the victor of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear".

Over the years, the people's confidence hasn't exactly been growing. Karen Hobert Flynn (left), president of Common Cause, was a speaker Paul Smith, the attorney arguing against Wisconsin's gerrymandered maps, exits to Supreme Court.

There's every reason to believe few of the court's members - none besides Kennedy, perhaps - will actuallyy weigh the evidence.

Those arguing for changing the shape of congressional districts in Pennsylvania say there's nothing amusing about one that that's been described as appearing to look like the cartoon character Goofy kicking Donald Duck.

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