Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Top court to hear case that could reshape United States political map

Top court to hear case that could reshape United States political map

The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a closely watched challenge to partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and decide whether it is unconstitutional for party leaders to entrench themselves in power with carefully drawn electoral maps.

Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program, also applauded the Supreme Court's announcement on Monday, calling it "a historic opportunity to address one of the biggest problems facing our electoral system".

The voters who are challenging the plan, led by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, argue that the map allowed Wisconsin's state Assembly to not resemble the electorate in a closely divided swing state that has supported presidential candidates from both parties and now has one Democrat and one Republican representing it in the U.S. Senate.

After winning control of the state legislature in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans redrew the statewide electoral map and approved the redistricting plan in 2011.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on "purely partisan gerrymanders", which means drawing voting districts with the aim of strengthening one political party, since 2004.

The state has appealed a lower court ruling, which found that state Republican lawmakers had violated the constitution when they drew up legislative districts to disadvantage the Democrats. Aside from this order postponing jurisdiction, the court opted not to take up any other cases this morning. He says Democrats proved in court that their rights were violated and "now this story will be told on a national stage".

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Three pollsters projected turnout to be at 42-43 percent at the close of polling, a record low in the post-war Fifth Republic. The conservative Republicans and their allies are the main opposition group in parliament, winning 136 seats.

Last year, a divided three-judge Federal District Court panel ruled that Republicans had gone too far.

Much has already been analyzed about the Wisconsin cases that will be reviewed in next year's term of the Supreme Court, but the Old North State is certainly one that will be watching the developments.

Republicans have more to lose in next term's case because they control state legislatures in many more states than the Democrats do, and they stand to maximize that advantage again after the 2020 census. "As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed". He said his state's apportion scheme denies residents the ability to have real choice at the ballot box.

The defendants in this case, Gill v. Whitford, claim to have come up with such a standard. "The right and freedom of every citizen to meaningfully participate in choosing who works for them in the legislature must be protected and I am hopeful that our highest court will do that by finding what politicians did in Wisconsin is unconstitutional", said Sen. Republicans are the most frequent beneficiaries, largely because their success around the country in the 2010 elections let them draw numerous current maps. But the high court could ultimately establish a new limit on the role politics plays into redistricting.

Employing the latest mapping technology, they created "a district plan that is one of the most extremely gerrymandered state legislative plans in the last four decades", a statement from the Campaign Legal Center says.

Democrats have accused Republicans of taking improper actions at the state level to suppress the turnout of minority voters and others who tend to support Democrats and maximize the number of party members in state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives.

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