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Gerrymandering: Drawing districts for political advantage

Gerrymandering: Drawing districts for political advantage

Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a Wisconsin gerrymandering case in which election district lines were drawn unconstitutionally.

Last November, federal judges in Madison ruled 2-1 that the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature's redrawing of legislative districts in 2011 amounted to "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander", a manipulation of electoral boundaries for unfair political advantage.

"In 2004, a four-member Supreme Court plurality all but ruled out challenges to even extreme partisan gerrymanders, while four members of the court would have allowed some limited challenges".

Campaign Legal Center president Trevor Potter, whose group is representing the plaintiffs, asserted that both parties should want to end partisan gerrymandering.

"As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed", Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

A Supreme Court ruling faulting the Wisconsin redistricting plan could have far-reaching consequences for the redrawing of electoral districts due after the 2020 US census. 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.

Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Wisconsin state Senate Democratic minority leader: "Regardless of the outcome in this case, we must remain committed to promoting election fairness, protecting voter rights and preserving our shared democratic values".

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to tackle partisan gerrymandering and sort through arguments about whether an electoral system is rigged or, instead, a party's political advantage is due to changing attitudes and demographics, as Wisconsin Republicans contend.




"Technology has made it easier than ever for self-interested legislators to manipulate districts for political advantage, so it is essential that courts step in to protect voters' fundamental constitutional rights".

In its decision, the majority in the court panel decision wrote that the Assembly district map, which was drawn in the office of a Madison law firm that often represents Republican interests, "was meant to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters.by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats".

The situation is similar in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, where lines drawn by Republicans have given the GOP the lion's share of the seats in Congress and state legislatures.

In postponing until its hearing the issue of whether the court actually has jurisdiction to make a final decision for or against the partisan claim, the Justices did not say what that procedural hurdle might be.

The court's five conservative justices voted to stop the redistricting process.

Walker commented while at a Wausau elementary school touting his education budget plan, which he says will give millions of dollars more in state aid to schools, including $5 million over the next two years for Wausau alone.

The Court will hear the Wisconsin government's appeal of Gill v. Whitford, a legal challenge against the GOP-majority legislature's election map, The New York Times reports.

But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. The Court's decision in this case will determine whether that ideal becomes a reality. The generic term for the process is called redistricting. Under both, the state maintains, Republicans gained majorities in the legislature in excess of their proportion of the statewide vote.

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