Supreme Court to Review Partisan Redistricting in Wisconsin Case

While the Supreme Court has ruled on many aspects of the districting process - banning state legislative districts with unequal populations and banning districts meant to disenfranchise black voters - it has issued muddled opinions on the question of whether partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional. It is high time for the High Court to stop politicians from drawing district lines for their own political benefit.

What is at stake here, both if the U.S. Supreme Court takes this up, and if it decides not to?

In many past years, the courts redrew the state Senate and Assembly lines because state government was split along party lines, but in 2011, Republicans had swept into power and did the job themselves. 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.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on June 19 that it will hear a case involving partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

HARRISBURG - Standing in the rotunda of the state Capitol Thursday afternoon, Robert Smith, a Luzerne County resident, said that before the 20...

Sachin Chheda (SAH'-chihn CHAY'-dah) is director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the lawsuit.

"We feel good that that will help make it more possible that we can get new maps before the 2018 election", Chheda said. "We therefore order that new maps be drawn that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act".

The stay is particularly important because it preserves the Legislature's time, effort, and resources while this case is pending.


The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states can not gerrymander districts in an effort to reduce the influence of minority voters.

Vladeck added that the Supreme Court's ruling on Gill v. Whitford "will affect elections for years to come". And there's also a dark cloud hanging over this case - and, indeed, the next several decades of life in the United States - that will matter just as much as whether Kennedy buys the plaintiffs' theory in Whitford.

"Correct", responded Marc Elias, who was general counsel for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. State and federal legislative district boundaries are reconfigured every decade after the census so that each one holds about same number of people. They will fill the legislative record with references to their naked partisan goals - and scrub it of references to race - in order to persuade the courts to find that politics, and not race, predominated in their decision-making. "They are trying to accomplish by delay what they couldn't prove in court".

Schimel said in a statement that he's "thrilled" the Supreme Court has taken the case. "As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed". The process is supposed to ensure that voters in each state are properly represented in Congress. Gerrymandering-the drawing of congressional districts to favor one party over another by packing it full of a disproportionate number of one party's voters-is a practice both Democrats and Republicans use.

But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives. That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said.

The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled last year that the state's Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution's First Amendment and equal rights protections.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Ripple, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote the decision, and was joined by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, of Madison, a Jimmy Carter appointee.

  • Bernice Underwood