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Supreme Court to Review Partisan Redistricting in Wisconsin Case

Supreme Court to Review Partisan Redistricting in Wisconsin Case”

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, led by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, asked the court to stay that ruling, which would let Wisconsin's current legislative map remain in place while this Supreme Court appeal proceeds. The process is supposed to ensure that voters in each state are properly represented in Congress. Gerrymandering-the drawing of congressional districts to favor one party over another by packing it full of a disproportionate number of one party's voters-is a practice both Democrats and Republicans use.

The case was initially decided in November by a panel of two federal district court judges and a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, which said in a 2-1 decision that the 2011 Republican re-draw of state Assembly boundaries is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Democrats have accused Republicans of taking improper actions at the state level to suppress the turnout of minority voters and others who tend to support Democrats and maximize the number of party members in state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Indeed, even in announcing that the Court will hear the case, the justices indicated that there is still considerable support for Scalia's approach.

More broadly, the Court should rule that pure political motivations for election rules are unfair and unlawful.

While it has regularly invalidated maps for improper racial gerrymandering, the Supreme Court, as noted above, has never struck down a map for excessive partisanship despite 31 years of precedent that partisan gerrymandering could theoretically be unconstitutional.

Yet if the Court reverses the Wisconsin panel's decision and once again rules that there are no judicial tests available to stop partisan gerrymandering, then we can expect ever more egregiously partisan redistricting.

The team working on behalf of the Democratic voters contends that it has found a way to measure unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders created to give a "large and durable" advantage in elections to one party - a measure that the Supreme Court has said was lacking in previous cases contending a partisan gerrymander.

A federal court ruled in Wisconsin that Republican lawmakers had violated the US Constitution's equal protection under the law and free speech clauses. He says Democrats proved in court that their rights were violated and "now this story will be told on a national stage". The stay was opposed by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen, the court's four liberal-leaning justices.

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State Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat and chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House, tweeted that the caucus would keep an eye on the Wisconsin case closely as the Texas trial begins next month. Kennedy is known as the court's strongest defender of First Amendment rights and has hinted that it may be the key to limiting partisan gerrymandering.

The outcome of the Wisconsin case will likely depend on whether Kennedy still believes this.

The case will be argued in the fall.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly will redraw the lines as soon as someone figures out what rules they want followed, Collins said. That work is proceeding.

"This is a historic opportunity to address one of the biggest problems facing our electoral system", Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-leaning law and policy think tank, said in a statement Monday.

In my most recent column, I expressed concern about the effectiveness of the constitutional decision rules that now govern gerrymandering - the redrawing of electoral districts in a manner that favors the incumbent majority at the expense of those out of power.

The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census.

The issue of gerrymandering - creating districts that often are oddly shaped, with the aim of benefiting one party - is central to the debate.

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