US Supreme Court revisits political 'gerrymandering' tactic

US Supreme Court revisits political 'gerrymandering' tactic

Grappling with its second partisan gerrymandering case of the term, the Supreme Court appeared highly conflicted Wednesday on whether Maryland violated the First Amendment rights of Republicans by shifting the political makeup of their congressional district.

There's been a lot of good news recently for opponents of partisan gerrymandering.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor chimed in, telling Kimberly that his clients had waited "an very bad long time" to bring their lawsuit. "It's deliberately making it more hard for particular citizens to achieve electoral success because their views are disapproved by those in power". A new map was created, passed both the Maryland House and Senate, and was signed by O'Malley.

But on Wednesday, Democrats' overt line-drawing is on trial, in a way that could reshape how both parties draw maps after the 2020 census.

Other justices anxious that if they declared Maryland's maps unconstitutional, states would find a way to redraw them while still favoring the party in power.

"Given their evidence, (the appellants) certainly have enough to go to a jury on that question", Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.

He said that government officials may not "single out" a voter based on the votes he cast before.

Some justices questioned whether voters had truly been harmed by the redistricting. "That gives you a standard", she said.

"Well, Mr. Sullivan, let's say you're right, that they have not shown us how much is too much, that they have suggested that in any forum, when there's partisan advantage, the courts should be intervening", Kagan said.

In 2004, he wrote in a concurring opinion on a gerrymandering case that he might consider a challenge if there were "a workable standard" to decide when such tactics crossed a constitutional line. Former Democratic Maryland governor Martin O'Malley said that Democrats there drew lines to elevate their congressional majority from 6 out of 8 seats to 7 out of 8.

Bartlett lost his bid for reelection in 2012 and withdrew to a survivalist compound in West Virginia. The justices were largely in agreement that the state's Democratic legislature had purposefully adjusted district lines to make a Republican district turn Democratic. Perhaps Breyer has reason to believe a more deliberate approach will not only bring Kennedy around but will lead to a more comprehensive decision (one that only focused on the Maryland situation, for example, might require time-consuming district-by-district challenges for purposes of implementation). "It was judged competitive". As a result only 34 percent of voters were registered Republican versus 47 percent before redistricting. That retaliation, he said, violated the First Amendment by diluting their voting power in a district that had been controlled by Republicans.

Folmer says he and Senate Republican leaders are honest in their willingness to consider changing the redistricting process. And they note that their plan was "legislatively enacted, petitioned to referendum, and approved by a majority of voters".

Safe districts are routinely cited in political circles for the split legislature's failures to compromise on such divisive issues as transportation and school funding, as well as gun control and religious liberty. "But if I understand it, I really don't see how any legislature will ever be able to redistrict". Both Republican incumbents were re-elected over black Democratic challengers in 2016. The old map drawn by the state's Republicans provided such an edge that the party consistently won 13 of the state's 18 districts, despite its reputation as a battleground state in national elections.

It also has filed court briefs supporting Democratic lawsuits alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering by Republicans in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the party's challenge, and the new map will stand for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

In contrast, Persily worked for the trio of judges - U.S. District Judges Catherine Eagles of Greensboro and Thomas Schroeder of Winston-Salem, and Circuit Judge James Wynn Jr., of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - who initially decided the case in favor of those protesting voters.

In Maryland, residents of the wealthy Washington, D.C., suburb of Potomac were lumped in with people who live in the rural northwestern corner of the state, Roberts said.

"In the end, there are going to be decisions made that need to have input from ordinary people involved, and political institutions should be involved in the process of these maps", Hagen said.

"It's clear that the Supreme Court wants to say something about partisan gerrymandering, and we don't quite know what that is yet", said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program.



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