Health Care

Supreme Court set to hear gerrymandering case


The Islamist Ennahdha Party won a free election in 2011 and formed a government but willingly stepped down in 2014 after it lost much of its public support, very much in the mold of how governments in parliamentary democracies in the West vacate office after losing the public's confidence.

The state also argues that, regardless of how partisan a gerrymander may be, the courts should stay out of such political questions. This time, they controlled the entire process. An electoral map drawn by one party in control of the state legislature could violate the First Amendment, some argue, because it amounts to a state punishment of certain voters for their political views.

And then the lawsuits came. The Court will be weighing whether those who drew the maps in Wisconsin baked such an extreme partisan advantage that voters' preferences wouldn't matter. Legislators tried to cover their tracks, but the courts were still able to find ample evidence that there were, in fact, political motivations behind the process.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin case challenging partisan legislative maps.

Pennsylvania's congressional and state legislative maps are set to be redrawn in 2021, following the 2020 Census. But others are anxious it could lead to a never-ending string of lawsuits. Would you say to them, “What you want is to have the party holding power at any particular moment draw the district lines, so they can maximize their advantage and shut the other party out”? "We believe that America is stronger when more people, not fewer, participate on Election Day". Justice Kennedy straddled the middle by concurring in the judgment, while refusing to "foreclose all possibility of judicial relief" if an appropriate standard could be identified. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans went to historic lengths to block President Barack Obama's pick for Scalia's seat for months until the presidential election.

Though it is up in the air how deeply the Court will cut into the practice of partisan gerrymandering, a smart gambler would bet on Wisconsin's maps going down.

After the hour-long argument in the major voting rights case out of Wisconsin, it appeared that conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes sides with the court's liberals in big cases, could cast the decisive vote. Politicians from both parties have given the practice mixed reviews, but both parties have used it to tip power in their favor.

That includes the efficiency gap, a simple formula that shows one party's advantage over another in a district.

The case pertains directly to Wisconsin but could affect OH and other states.

But the Justice Department filed a brief in August with the Supreme Court supporting the state law, stating it had "reconsidered the question" after the "change in Administration".

Some of the court's conservatives seemed skeptical over whether such a hearing should be triggered automatically after six months, as a lower court had ruled. Alito cited a 2004 decision, Vieth v. Jubelirer, in which Justice Antonin Scalia-joined by a plurality of the Court's conservatives-declared flatly that "the judicial department has no business entertaining the claim" of unlawful partisan gerrymandering, "because the question is entrusted to one of the political branches".

But is this a result - in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere - of Democratic voters choosing to cluster together in cities, as some Republicans say? The temporary apportionment they specified for pre-census Congresses was based on their informed estimates of states' populations. In 2012, Republicans won just 48.6 percent of the statewide vote, but won 60 of 99 assembly seats. That's at least in part because of Minnesota's long history of divided government.

Spakovsky says the Supreme Court should strike down the suit against Wisconsin, otherwise he says it will open the flood gates for all states to sue over political gerrymandering.

But that might not always be the case. The map included a district that looked like a salamander, hence creating the term gerrymander. "That litigation is expensive and time consuming". The yield, for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, was as many as twenty-two additional seats-enough of a surplus to account for nearly all of the G.O.P.'s advantage in the chamber. Ginsburg asked. "The precious right to vote".