Supreme Court Ruling in Gerrymandering Case Would Have Far-Reaching Effects
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 23, 2017,
Jun 23, 2017, 12:22
The Supreme Court case comes as a result of a decision by a court in Wisconsin, which found that the state's Republican lawmakers had violated the Constitution's First Amendment as well as equal rights protections for citizens through partisan gerrymandering.
A dozen Wisconsin Democratic Party voters in 2015 sued state election officials, saying the redistricting divided Democratic voters in some areas and packed them in others to dilute their electoral clout and benefit Republican candidates.
"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.
The ruling stated there was no question that "the map was created to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats".
The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to settle a question that has rages in Wisconsin politics for years: Did Republican lawmakers redraw district lines too unfairly? "Now it has the potential to be applied to every state", Kessler said. The two top Republicans in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, say they're confident the Supreme Court will affirm the GOP maps. The Supreme Court has never struck down districts because of partisan advantage.
Wisconsin Democrats are concerned that redistricting practices, such as the plan that took place in their state in 2011, could violate voters' democratic rights.
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver a speech on US-Cuba relations at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 16, 2017.
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.
The issue has splintered the Supreme Court in the past, most recently in a 2004 ruling that left Justice Anthony Kennedy as the court's pivot point.
In a case decided earlier this year, the court sided with North Carolina Democrats and civil rights organizations who argued that African-American voters in the state were largely put into only two districts.
Republicans have more to lose in next term's case because they control state legislatures in many more states than the Democrats do, and they stand to maximize that advantage again after the 2020 census.
Twelve Republican-dominated states are supporting Wisconsin in its defense of the 2011 redistricting plan. "The legislature did. But we had our attorneys look through it before we signed it and it very clearly upheld all the criteria that the courts have done in previous [decades] when the legislature was split". "In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line", Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN.