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The Supreme Court will hear a case on partisan gerrymandering

26 June 2017

The state has appealed a lower court ruling, which found that state Republican lawmakers had violated the constitution when they drew up legislative districts to disadvantage the Democrats.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case that challenges partisan gerrymandering, and whether the districting that generally aids Republican candidates is unconstitutional. The court should take this opportunity to end this practice.

A three-judge court struck down Wisconsin's legislative districts in November and ordered new maps drawn in time for the 2018 elections. I think our experts said it would take a political natural disaster in Wisconsin for you to actually get Democrats back in control of the house (Assembly.) Even though, in 2012, over 50% of the state voted for Democrat candidates, yet 60% of the Legislature ended up Republican. Judge Kenneth F. Ripple of the three-judge Federal District Court stated that the lines were "designed to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats".

The lower court ruled that the Republican-led legislature's redrawing of state legislative districts in 2011 amounted to "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander", a term meaning manipulating electoral boundaries for an unfair political advantage. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton - all played a role in the state's last round of redistricting, but none had weighed in on the U.S Supreme Court's announcement as of midday Monday.

Their lawsuit claimed that Republicans spread Democrats thin among some districts so that they could not achieve a majority. They said the federal court overstepped its bounds and judges should stay out of an inherently political exercise.

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Schimel had asked the Supreme Court to delay the drawing of new boundaries until after the court rules on the merits of the case.

La Crosse 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".

(North Carolina, which has already redrawn its maps after a challenge, is now facing challenges to its new map.) But they said it was an important moment - and noted that it could change the landscape when states begin working on their next set of election maps a few years from now.

The way America conducts its elections could soon be upended by a landmark Supreme Court case. That's a political judgment the Court has repeatedly recognized as nonjusticiable.

After evaluating the constitutionality of the map with a three-part test, the panel concluded that the map displayed both bad intent and bad effect, citing evidence that the map drawers used special partisan measurements to ensure that the map maximized Republican advantages in assembly seats. "And by that metric, plaintiffs looked back at redistricting plans throughout the USA, going back to 1972, and Wisconsin's redistricting plan was one of the most strongly political gerrymandered in history". That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said. But the court in that case didn't find such a violation and has never agreed on a clear standard for invalidating partisan gerrymanders.

The Supreme Court will hear a case on partisan gerrymandering