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Justices could consider fight over electoral maps
20 June 2017, 12:56 | Stacy Allen
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That state's legislative leaders asked the Supreme Court in their brief to reject any effort that "wrests control of districting away from the state legislators to whom the state constitution assigns that task, and hands it to federal judges and opportunistic plaintiffs seeking to accomplish in court what they failed to achieve at the ballot box".
Governor Scott Walker said Monday the argument Wisconsin lawmakers' redistricting plan gave republicans an advantage in the 2016 election is invalid.
The Court will hear the Wisconsin government's appeal of Gill v. Whitford, a legal challenge against the GOP-majority legislature's election map, The New York Times reports.
The lower court ruled that the Republican-led legislature's redrawing of state legislative districts in 2011 amounted to "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander".
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.
Rather than issue a ruling, however, the high court said it will hear the case on the merits. "However the Court rules will affect elections for years to come".
The Supreme Court is putting the redrawing of Wisconsin legislative districts on hold while the justices consider the issue of partisan gerrymandering. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton - all played a role in the state's last round of redistricting, but none had weighed in on the U.S Supreme Court's announcement as of midday Monday. "The essential question is whether the court will finally accept a new standard and block partisan gerrymandering, or continue the court's stated disapproval of excessive partisan gerrymandering while never finding one to overrule", League of Women Voters president Chris Carson said.
This isn't the first time that the Supreme Court is hearing a case on political gerrymandering, but all prior attempts failed to yield a precedent.
"There is no question", said the 2-1 ruling, that the map drawn by Wisconsin's legislature "was created to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats". "The maps were in place and republicans gained seats in '12, '14, and '16", he said. "Now this story will be told on a national stage". The stay was opposed by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen, the court's four liberal-leaning justices.
As a effect, if the law remains as it is, we can expect that state legislatures will simply engage in a form of kabuki theater when they redistrict.
The court's five conservative justices voted to stop the redistricting process.
The case will be argued in the fall. 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. And "that work is proceeding".
Even justices who favor giving lawmakers discretion to draw district lines hold their noses when it comes to how they do it. And so a majority of the Supreme Court has always concluded that they can't figure out a way to do it without themselves making a political judgment about how much is too much.
The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census.
The 2-1 decision that struck down Wisconsin's legislative map found Republicans were so partisan and so precise in their drawing of Wisconsin's legislative map in 2011 that they had silenced the voices of Democratic voters in the process.
It was statistical measurement of how many votes in each party were wasted, either because they were so diluted in a district they could never achieve a majority or because they were so concentrated in a district that they were in excess of what was needed to get a majority.
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