Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

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20 June, 2017

The issue has torn the court for decades.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone.

The lower court ruled that the Republican-led legislature's redrawing of state legislative districts in 2011 amounted to "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander".

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. Aside from this order postponing jurisdiction, the court opted not to take up any other cases this morning. The four liberals would have let it proceed. "If your argument is the maps are unfair, it should only happen once", he said. He said that leaves plenty of time before a June filing deadline for state legislative races.

We spoke with one of the plaintiffs who told us that one of the problems with the maps - or I guess probably the biggest problem with the maps - is that it is impossible for Democrats to win.

That means Wisconsin will not need to put in place a new electoral map while the justices consider the matter.

Schimel says the stay "preserves the Legislature's time, effort and resources while this case is pending". They said the federal court overstepped its bounds and judges should stay out of an inherently political exercise. In racial gerrymandering, lines are drawn to lower the influence of black voters, sometimes by scattering them across different districts. He said he doesn't believe the court will rule until possibly the middle of 2018. "However the Court rules will affect elections for years to come", says University of Kentucky College of Law's Josh Douglas, a law professor, according to CNN. If the case is reversed, then I think that is a real democratic harm, and that will be a real loss for the people in Wisconsin.

"Correct", responded Marc Elias, who was general counsel for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

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The state contends that while Wisconsin is a purple state in national elections, its geography favors Republicans in legislative elections. In addition, Republican legislative leaders hired a pair of law firms to represent them before the Supreme Court.

Attorney General Brad Schimel released the following statement in response.

In states controlled by Republicans, Democrats have long complained that voting districts are created to disadvantage them.

The new case out of Wisconsin will test that.

But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering.

Last year, a three-judge federal court broke new ground when it ruled the map was unconstitutional because its "motivating factor" was an "intent to entrench a political party in power". That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said.

"There is no question", said the 2-1 ruling, that the map drawn by Wisconsin's legislature "was created to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats".

"The decision in this case will likely set the path for redistricting in 2020 and beyond". Dissenting was U.S. Chief Judge William Griesbach of Milwaukee. Thus, one way to gain partisan advantage in racially diverse states is to dilute the voting power of racial groups who tend to vote for the other party. "In 2014 and 2016, Republicans extended their advantage to 63 and 64 seats, respectively, even though the statewide vote remained almost tied". Their lawsuit states that in the first election after the 2011 redistricting, Republican candidates won 60 of the Assembly's 99 seats even though Democratic candidates won a majority of the statewide votes cast for Assembly. North Carolina's congressional delegation tilts 10-3 Republican. Both political parties do it when they can. "Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory". But if it upholds the lower court, it will be a landmark decision.


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