Supreme Court holds up on redrawing WI districts

Supreme Court holds up on redrawing WI districts

Supreme Court holds up on redrawing WI districts

The Supreme Court agrees to take on accusations of gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Republicans dispute the assertion that they intentionally engineered a biased map, arguing that partisan skews in the map reflect a natural geographic advantage they have in redistricting as a result of Democrats clustering in cities while Republicans are spread out more evenly throughout the state.

The panel, however, denied one of the plaintiffs' principal requests: to have judges, not lawmakers and the governor, in charge of redrawing the legislative boundaries, stating in its opinion, "it is neither necessary nor appropriate for us to embroil the Court in the Wisconsin Legislature's deliberations".

The case will be argued in the fall.

A federal district court in Wisconsin ruled 2-1 in November that election districts drawn by Republicans discriminated against Democratic voters "by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats".

The federal court's decision was the first time in three decades that such a ruling had been made on a redistricting case, thereby setting the stage for a possible showdown in the Supreme Court.

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The issue of gerrymandering - creating districts that often are oddly shaped, with the aim of benefiting one party - is central to the debate. The term comes from a Massachusetts state Senate district that resembled a salamander and was approved in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.

"Across the country, we're witnessing legislators of both parties seizing power from voters in order to advance their purely partisan purposes".

"Partisan and racial gerrymanders drive too many Americans from our democratic process because citizens feel their votes don't count and sadly in states like Wisconsin and North Carolina today many of those citizens are absolutely right", said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, an organization pushing for redistricting reform. In these safe seats, incumbents tend to be more concerned about primary challengers, so they try to appeal mostly to their party's base.

He added, "Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory".

The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.

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Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (SHIH'-mehl) says he is "thrilled" the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit brought by Democrats challenging redistricting maps drawn by Republicans.

The challengers have continued to push their argument at the U.S. Supreme Court. Some justices believe courts have no role to play in a matter best left to elected officials. Four others - only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer remain - said such challenges could be heard by the court but disagreed on the method. Whitford gives the court its first look at the issue since then and an opportunity to set some limits on excessive partisanship in redistricting. But Justice Anthony Kennedy, 80, would not go that far; he may be the swing vote in the new case - if he doesn't retire over the summer.

A three-judge court struck down the districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander and ordered new ones to be put in place for the 2018 elections.

In 2010, Democrats held an eight-to-five advantage in the North Carolina congressional delegation. It acknowledged the efficiency gap, but only as one of several theories the court said corroborated its findings that the Republican leadership had a discriminatory intent, that its plan had a discriminatory effect and that the state had no legitimate reason for drawing the districts in the way it did.

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