Supreme Court will hear case on constitutionality of gerrymandering for political advantage

Is there anything in politics more boring than redistricting? Not much. Is there anything more important? Very little.

If congressional districts are allowed to be drawn based on how favourable they might be in delivering seats to one party or another, democracy is not served.

We now hear that The Supreme Court will “hear Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling that found its 2011 state redistricting plan was unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering,” a move that could have significant consequences on “how far state legislatures can go in drawing up district lines for partisan gain.”

The federal district court for the Western District of Wisconsin invalidated Wisconsin’s plan for the State Assembly. Similar cases are reportedly pending in North Carolina and Maryland.

The case goes as follows:

In 2012, after a new map was put into use, Republicans took 60 seats in the 99-seat state Assembly, with only 48.6 percent of the two-party vote.

Federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ “racial gerrymandering” are unconstitutional. In racial gerrymandering, lines are drawn to lower the influence of minority voters, sometimes by scattering them across different districts.

The challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative lines are different because the challenge revolves around whether district lines can be drawn for a partisan advantage.

The claim against the Wisconsin redistricting plan is that it disadvantages Democrats in one of two ways. It either draws boundary lines so Democrats are spread out in districts where Republicans tend to have a majority, or Democrats are concentrated in a few districts where they win an overwhelming majority but take far fewer seats than their percentage of the vote state-wide would warrant.

Anyway, it would be good to get a Supreme Court ruling on the inherent unfairness of redistricting for political advantage. Seems like a no-brainer, but who knows?

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