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Supreme Court to hear Wisconsin gerrymander case

25 June 2017

An example of "packing" could be seen in the recent North Carolina congressional districts in 2016. Redistricting occurs based on the results of the U.S. Census, which is held every 10 years. He noted that some unusually drawn districts had beneficial effects, including one in IL that created a heavily Latino district. The Supreme Court has been split in the past on whether or not these primarily political decisions are best left to elected officials. Cracking, or spreading, Democratic voters across districts in which Republicans have small majorities wastes all of the Democratic votes when the Republican candidate wins. In 2014, the party garnered 52 percent of the vote and 63 Assembly seats.

Where did the term "gerrymandering" originate? "Rucho.pdf" target="_blank">has challenged five U.S. Congressional districts in the state as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

"It's a good thing I said all along, that the law passed year ago on redistricting was constitutional".

One of the drawbacks of the system is that it leads to non-competitive elections in which the result is determined before any votes are cast. "It is clear that the drafters got what they meant to get".

On Monday, the Supreme Court in a separate order stopped the redrawing of Wisconsin's state legislative districts until the justices decide the case, but showed how divided it could become.

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Which party now benefits the most from gerrymandering?

"But instead of serving the people of the state and drawing fair voting maps, Republicans have continued legal appeals in this case and others to try to protect themselves".

The New York Times reports that the challengers in the case, Gill v. Whitford, allege that they have found a way to distinguish partisanship when districts are drawn, versus the other natural needs in districting decisions.

The Supreme Court will likely hear the case in November or December 2017, and a ruling will be made by June 2018.

"This has become such a big problem in the United States, we have been so bitterly partisan divided over the last decade or so and the redistribution process has been one of the things that people point to when we talk about why we are so bitterly divided".

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"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. The dissenting judge said that Wisconsin might have been politically motivated but the state complied with traditional redistricting principles that the Supreme Court has previously upheld.

The issue centers on whether a party in power can redraw election districts in such a way that a minority party's First Amendment rights and the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection are violated. A San Antonio federal court is set to hear arguments in July. While Republicans got 48.6% of the votes in Wisconsin, they managed to get a 60 to 39 seat majority in the State Assembly with the help of gerrymandering.

What effect may this case have?

While the high court has suggested states can unconstitutionally draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, King said, the point at which states cross the constitutional line has never been specified. "In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line".

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Supreme Court to hear Wisconsin gerrymander case