Supreme Court's ruling on Wisconsin mapmaking case could impact gerrymandering across US

Supreme Court's ruling on Wisconsin mapmaking case could impact gerrymandering across US

"I am thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request to review the redistricting decision and that Wisconsin will have an opportunity to defend its redistricting process", Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a prepared statement Monday.

At the same time, the court agreed to hear a case next term that will test whether there is a constitutional limit to how much partisanship can be used to draw legislative maps.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of Wisconsin legislative districts as drawn by majority Republicans in 2011. The result is that while Republicans won only a minority of the statewide vote - 48.6 percent - they captured a 60 of 99 seats in the state Assembly. The Republican congressional district with the largest margin of victory was in the Third District, with GOP Walter Jones winning 67 percent of the vote.

While the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering, federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ "racial gerrymandering" are against the law. According to Judge Kenneth F. Ripple, in his majority opinion, the act made it more hard for Democrats to "translate their votes into seats". That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said. He's reportedly taking a more active role with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which advocates for redistricting reform amid what many view as lopsidedly partisan legislative maps.

Whitford is an appeal of a lower court's order for the Wisconsin Legislature to redraw the state assembly map that the court struck down as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander by November 1. In these safe seats, incumbents tend to be more concerned about primary challengers, so they try to appeal mostly to their party's base. Republicans disagree. They say the maps reflect the population: districts are mainly blue, or Democratic, in urban areas, while districts elsewhere are mainly red, or Republican. Aside from this order postponing jurisdiction, the court opted not to take up any other cases this morning.

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The court's five conservative justices voted to stop the redistricting process. This case has the potential to help make Congress and state legislatures truly democratic, by ensuring that voters choose their representatives.

The high court's ruling in Wisconsin's case could affect other states, if lawmakers there are accused of creating maps that are "too partisan".

The Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of race and congressional district-drawing, most recently last month when it rejected two North Carolina districts, as The Two-Way reported. "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". The case, which will be heard in the fall, could have a pronounced impact on how district lines, generally redrawn after a decennial census, can be drawn across the country.

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to tackle partisan gerrymandering and sort through arguments about whether an electoral system is rigged or, instead, a party's political advantage is due to changing attitudes and demographics.

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