A divided panel of three judges in Wisconsin ruled a year ago that the map drawn up by the state’s GOP leadership in 2011 was so partisan that it violated First Amendment and equal rights protections in the Constitution. In other states, bipartisan commissions draw districts in an effort to reduce gerrymandering.
“This is a blockbuster”.
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. Because it’s the legal process by which elected officials determine the size and scope of electoral districts, more often than not for their or their party’s own advantage, and it has led to many high profile court cases as of late. State Attorney General Brad Schimel had asked the court for permission to hold off. That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said.
The U.S. Supreme Court has just announced it will finally address whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional.
That means Wisconsin will not need to put in place a new electoral map while the justices consider the matter.
Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
That ruling “might be (a) signal” as to how the court splits when it gets to the merits, according to a Twitter post made by Marc Elias, a high-profile Democratic lawyer.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to decide the Wisconsin case before early next year.
Agreeing with that assessment was Rick Hasen, a professor who specializes in election law at the University of California, Irvine. “The court has never had a clear approach to partisan gerrymandering once it chose to start hearing these cases at all”.
Both sides will be pitching their arguments to Kennedy.
“Justice Kennedy is the big question mark here”, Douglas said.
The case will likely be argued in November or December, with a decision to follow next year – perhaps only a few months before the 2018 elections, and less than two years before the 2020 census.
Maps are re-drawn by lawmakers periodically, in order to assign congressional representatives in proportion to U.S. census data. Instead, the GOP controlled the House with a 234-201 majority.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review.
Since then, a three-judge federal district court panel ruled that Republicans overstepped, concluding that the map “was created to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats”.
The case could have national implications.
William Whitford, a retired law school professor, and 11 other Democrats challenged the resulting map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Democratic voters are clustered in cities such as Milwaukee and Madison, while Republican voters are more evenly spread across the state.
“And they would argue that the new legal standard is such that the IL map doesn’t measure up constitutionally and they would have a pretty good argument that it should be fixed before the next round of redistricting comes along”, Smith said. Instead, legislative leaders openly boasted they would gerrymander purely along partisan lines to unfairly give Republicans maximum advantage, as Lewis is shown doing in the video below. “Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory”. Republicans are the most frequent beneficiaries, largely because their success around the country in the 2010 elections let them draw numerous current maps.