Supreme Court divided over partisan districting

Supreme Court divided over partisan districting

Gerrymandering is nearly as old as the republic; it derives its name from Elbridge Gerry, a 19th-century MA governor who approved a redistricting that included a misshaped state Senate district that resembled a salamander.

Wisconsin is being sued over politically gerrymandered legislative districts, and the case is just days from the Supreme Court.

Throughout the session, the justices and lawyers alike appeared to cast their questions and remarks with the hope of attracting Kennedy. Kennedy asked Wisconsin's solicitor general, implying that extreme partisan gerrymandering could violate the right to free speech by preventing those in the minority-in this case Wisconsin Democrats denied representation-from having an equal say in the political process.

Though the court sidelined the political gerrymandering question in Vieth, Kennedy wrote separately that he would be open to hearing a future challenge if someone could develop a workable test.

If the Supreme Court sets guidelines to prohibit partisanship from being used to draw district lines, it would put "10 to 12 more chambers in immediate play" in six or seven states, said Jessica Post, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

It should be said that this three-part test is only one of many one might use to determine whether a states redistricting plan violates the equal protection clause.

The case pertains directly to Wisconsin but could affect OH and other states.

Kennedy then asked if standing were established whether the redrawn electoral maps be unconstitutional. Their ruling, due by June, could have an impact on US elections for decades by setting standards for when electoral districts are laid out with such extreme partisan aims that they deprive voters of their constitutional rights.

In Gill v. Whitford, Democrats found a favorable three-judge district court, but a five-vote majority of the Supreme Court blocked the ruling from taking effect while the court considers the case.

It would be unreasonable to let voters in a different state challenge Wisconsin's congressional map, he said, and allowing voters in a single state legislative district to do the same for a statewide map would be just a problematic.

Republicans returned to the Capitol last January with a 64-35 seat majority in the state Assembly and a 20-13 advantage in the Senate.

Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan), said, "This has been done by democratic legislatures in the past as well, it doesn't make it right". After the new maps were passed, Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats in the state Assembly in the 2012 election, despite the fact that they carried only 47 percent of the vote.

They said Republicans packed Democrats into some districts and spread them out across others as a way to create more districts conductive to a GOP candidate. The girl's parents filed suit against the Garden City mayor and aldermen seeking damages for what they argued was negligence on the part of the city by allowing the bleachers to fall into a unsafe condition.

So the subtext of the discussion about the NLRB's position seems to me to be that even independent executive branch agencies change their minds when administrations change - a perhaps unremarkable observation except when the Supreme Court is considering how much credence it should place in an agency's legal reasoning.

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

Courts have struck down districts as racially biased for decades, and other partisan districting lawsuits are moving through the courts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina.

The Supreme Court's decision would likely come next year. Now that Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the court he will presumably break a tie.

"Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering". Do they dramatically benefit one party over the other?

He pressed the state's lawyers about whether it would be unconstitutional for the state to simply declare that it was going to favor one party over another.

Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, echoed this sentiment, concluding,"Make no mistake about it: Extreme partisan gerrymandering is corruption". The Wisconsin map "was the most partisan" map possible. In their brief, they noted that thousands of individuals are held beyond six months, one year on average, and hundreds for more than two years. "What it protects is their right in the workplace to decide they want to get to the courthouse, but once they get to the courthouse..." he said before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cut him off.



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