Justices take on fight over partisan electoral maps

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The opinions expressed are his own.

The ruling on this case could be a landmark in the argument against political gerrymandering nationwide. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

The Wisconsin case seems promising because the lower court said it found a way to measure the partisan nature of the districts. It said redistricting efforts are unlawful partisan gerrymandering when they seek to entrench the party in power, and have no other legitimate justification.

The court's five conservative justices voted to stop the redistricting process. And there's also a dark cloud hanging over this case - and, indeed, the next several decades of life in the United States - that will matter just as much as whether Kennedy buys the plaintiffs' theory in Whitford. Voter ID laws, campaign finance rules, and redistricting maps are all suspect when the primary motivation for them is to stay in power. "Having a remedy for partisan gerrymandering is very important, especially in the South where race and politics are increasingly joined at the hip", said Michael Li senior counsel in the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, "A rule against partisan gerrymandering will have a major impact for communities of color, where partisanship unfortunately has often been used as an excuse for actions that hurt minorities".

Voter advocacy groups, which have long denounced GOP-drawn congressional districts as discriminatory and blatantly undemocratic, were quick to celebrate the Supreme Court's move.

"Politicians should not be choosing their voters, voters should be choosing their politicians", she concluded. North Carolina's congressional delegation tilts 10-3 Republican. Redistricting commonly takes place after the once-a-decade census is conducted. State and federal legislative district boundaries are reconfigured every decade after the census, so each holds about same number of people. Both Democrats and Republicans do it.

The Supreme Court had discussed the case at its June 8 and June 15 conferences, according to the court's docket on the case.

The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted.

SCOTUS has struck down racial gerrymandering but not partisan gerrymandering.

Meanwhile, others have a different theory about the Wisconsin gerrymandering case's real significance... Their test, known as the "efficiency gap", focuses on how frequently votes in a particular district are effectively wasted, either because they go to a candidate who loses or because they provide the victor with more support than was necessary. In essence, the standard, created by a law professor and a political science professor, provides a numerical way to test the partisan disadvantage in a redistricting plan.

The ruling by the Supreme Court could clarify the point at which a state crosses from redrawing maps to favor the party in power, to actual violation of the Constitution.

The key question, as always on this Supreme Court, is where Kennedy will land.

"Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory", said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation and strategy at the center, in a statement.

"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", said Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, adding that the state's redistricting process was lawful and constitutional.

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