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New Gerrymandering Suit Challenges PA Maps In Federal Court

06 October 2017

The court was hearing a plea filed by a man, whose wife and daughter were allegedly gangraped in July a year ago on a highway near Bulandshahr, seeking transfer of the case to Delhi and lodging of an FIR against former Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan for his controversial statement that the gangrape case was a "political conspiracy". The only remaining question was whether he believed Wisconsin's Republicans had done essentially that when they went behind closed doors in 2011 and used computerized maps to assure their hold on the state legislature.

Roberts raised concerns about the high court approving or rejecting future state electoral maps, suggesting the public could start viewing the court as a political body.

Gerrymandering for racial reasons is illegal.

WASHINGTON-Ever since the early 1800s, USA politicians have practiced gerrymandering, the long and dishonorable practice of lawmakers drawing legislative districts to entrench themselves and their party in power.

Gerrymandering is hardly new: the name dates back to an unwieldy district created in 1812 by Elbridge Gerry, then governor of MA.

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Gov. Gerry died two years later in 1814, presumably not as a outcome of the original political sin attributed to him. Unsurprisingly, these states seem to draw more competitive districts.

That includes IL, where Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's map machinations have given him permanent control of the General Assembly for almost two decades.

The chief justice expressed worry that the court's legitimacy and authority would be hurt if the court struck down what most observers agree is extreme partisan gerrymandering by Republicans in Wisconsin. Indeed, depending on how the issue is addressed, a court ruling just might obliterate legislative gerrymandering in Wisconsin while institutionalizing it in IL.

The left-leaning justices questioned Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, counsel for the petitioners, extensively on why alien detainees should be treated differently than individuals being detained during criminal proceedings. That's what gerrymandering does, and why it's unconstitutional. At oral arguments, Kennedy at least appeared open to setting a standard to determine when gerrymandering goes too far, though it's hard to say how he'll vote.

As with many political problems, there is no simple solution.

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That proposed standard is something proponents call the "efficiency gap".

The idea is to pack as many voters of the opposing party into as few districts as possible, then break up remaining opposition voters over as many districts as possible - minimizing the number of the other party's voters within each of the "cracked" districts. Republicans who controlled the legislature and the governor's office adopted electoral maps that have given themselves a significant advantage in the state Assembly in a state that is otherwise roughly divided between the parties. In 2014, Republicans won 52 percent of the votes but 63 seats. "The Senate too, depending on how they draw the lines". Wisconsin Republicans argue that enforcing a judiciary-designed definition for "partisan" in legislative elections would create a system of judicial review on every map.

The Supreme Court is taking up a case about political maps in Wisconsin that could affect elections across the country.

One thing is for sure. A recent poll by Democrat Celinda Lake and Republican Ashlee Rich Stephenson found that 71 percent of Americans want the court to set rules determining when partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The secret to advocacy before the contemporary Supreme Court is no secret: it's all about pandering to Justice Anthony Kennedy. But he needs - and is searching for - a better rationale for doing so than he has heard in the past.

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New Gerrymandering Suit Challenges PA Maps In Federal Court