US Supreme Court Will Hear Wisconsin Redistricting Appeal

Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court.                       Erika Dimmler

Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court. Erika Dimmler

North Carolina's electoral map was rejected by the Supreme Court recently for illegally using race in an effort to create more GOP-leaning districts. The district court agreed with the challengers that the map was drawn for partisan reasons and resulted in "wasted votes". And "that work is proceeding".

WASHINGTON (AP) - In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. They argued that Democratic voters were spread so thinly across the state that it was impossible for Democratic legislative candidates to be elected and achieve a majority.

The justices will review a November ruling 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. Redistricting occurs based on the results of the U.S. Census, which is held every 10 years. "And by that metric, plaintiffs looked back at redistricting plans throughout the US, going back to 1972, and Wisconsin's redistricting plan was one of the most strongly political gerrymandered in history".

The case, Gill v. Whitford, comes to the court after a panel of three federal judges ruled 2-1 a year ago that state lawmakers unconstitutionally drew the boundaries of state Assembly districts to benefit Republicans in 2011. "Walker is confident Wisconsin's redistricting process is constitutional and is pleased to see the Supreme Court take the case". "It is clear that the drafters got what they meant to get".

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". Justices also put on hold an earlier ruling requiring that new maps be drawn by November. "I am pleased that the Court granted our request on this important issue". 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. Others say courts should step in. "Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the fifth and deciding vote, declaring that he might someday embrace a challenge to a partisan gerrymander if someone could come up with workable standards". In that case and again in 2006, Kennedy didn't find one. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional a year ago.

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The practice of gerrymandering has grown and become more specific since the invention of modern computing technology, which allows politicians to more easily identify their supporters.

"Wisconsin's gerrymander was one of the most aggressive of the decade, locking in a large and implausibly stable majority for Republicans in what is otherwise a battleground state", said Brennan Center redistricting expert Thomas Wolf. The court adopted an equation offered by the challengers that essentially measures and compares each party's wasted votes -those going to the victor in excess of what's needed for victory - in an election.

The 2-1 decision that struck down Wisconsin's legislative map found Republicans were so partisan and so precise in their drawing of Wisconsin's legislative map in 2011 that they had silenced the voices of Democratic voters in the process.

The Republican party now controls a majority of state legislatures and, thus, re-districting in most states.

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