Supreme Court to weigh partisan gerrymandering case

Jim Barnett is running for governor

Today (Monday), the US Supreme Court agreed to take on a case with the potential to dramatically affect the future elections in the country.

The justices are expected to hear arguments on Gill. v. Whitford when the next Supreme Court term begins in October. The state is one of several battlegrounds where Republicans and Democrats fought to a virtual draw in last year's presidential election, but where Republicans enjoy election districts that have given them a almost 2-to-1 advantage in the state Assembly. In 2014, Republicans won 52 percent of the vote and increased their state assembly majority to 63 seats.

A panel of three federal judges previously ruled that the maps unconstitutionally harmed Democrats because districts were drawn in a way that unfairly benefited Republicans.

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts (R) and associate Justice Neil Gorsuch are joined by Louise Gorsuch during his investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017.

"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. By placing an over-abundance of voters who cast ballots for one party into a district (thus "packing" partisan loyalists), it frees up surrounding districts to favor the other party.

The disputed map was drawn after Wisconsin's 2010 election produced Republican control of the state assembly, state senate, and the governor's office for the first time in more than 40 years.

The current congressional map was implemented in 2011.

Whichever party controls the Legislature after the 2020 election would have a shot at drawing legislative boundaries for the next decade.

Federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ "racial gerrymandering" are unconstitutional. And Sachin Chedda of the Fair Elections Project, which fought the state's maps in court, says he's confident the high court will affirm the lower court ruling. The court, however, said the state's natural political geography "does not explain adequately the sizeable disparate effect" seen in the previous two election cycles. The case was then petitioned to the nation's high court, which announced Monday it will hear it in November. A divided panel ruled that the maps violated the constitution.

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.

"We find that Act 43 was meant to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats", wrote Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple in the lower district court ruling.

"I have long advocated for an independent commission to draw legislative districts, which is the only way to take partisanship out of the process", Kind also said.

They were able to amplify Republican voting power, gaining more seats than their percentage of the statewide vote would suggest.



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