Supreme Court to hear partisan gerrymandering case

Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court.                       Erika Dimmler

Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor who blogs about election law cases, wrote Sunday night that the court granting a stay would indicate a good possibility that the court is positioned to reverse the lower court panel's decision in the case. The Court has agreed to no firm standard as to which political considerations are and are not allowed in creating congressional and legislative districts, and in 2004's Vieth v. Jubelirer a plurality opinion by the right wing of the Court argued that no such standard is even possible.

Every 10 years following the census, states redraw the boundaries of legislative districts to account for population changes, so that the number of people living in each district is about the same. Postponing the determination of whether the court has jurisdiction could prove to be just a formality, or it could provide a way for the justices to sidestep a ruling on the merits if the case proves too hard - only time will tell.

There also are questions, in this particular case, on whether a court may hear a challenge to a redistricting plan based upon a claim of partisan gerrymandering if the challenge is statewide, and not district-by-district, and on whether the state's Republican leaders had been denied any chance to defend their plan under the formula that the lower court had only disclosed in announcing its final decision.

"No matter which side of the aisle you're on, we should all be able to agree on one thing: as voters in a democracy we should have the right to freely choose our representatives rather than endure a system where politicians manipulate our district lines, dilute our votes, and choose their own constituents", Johnson said. "Well, that's as much a political judgment and partisan gerrymander as the one that the plaintiffs alleged to have occurred", Esenberg says. "In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line". He could be the swing vote in the Wisconsin case.

The original case, Gill v. Whitford , was prompted after GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin in 2010, having recently taken hold of both the state legislature and governorship, drew up their new hyper-partisan, gerrymandered State Assembly electoral map.

Wisconsin's Republican party won 48.6 percent of the vote in the first election following the release of Wisconsin's current maps.

If a candidate only needs 51% of the votes to win, any votes over and above that are essentially wasted.

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When the efficiency gap is over 7 percent, it makes it extremely likely the majority party will maintain its electoral majority. The Republican National Committee and a dozen large Republican states have asked the court to reverse the Wisconsin decision.

"It shows us how much imbalance there is in the wasting of votes", Burden said. He said the Wisconsin case, along with others, "will halt these illegal maps, now and in the future".

HARRISBURG - The time may be ripe for the Legislature to take a crack at fixing the way districts for lawmakers are defined, said Carol Kuniho...

Partisan gerrymandering nationwide is more acute than ever before. He said his state's apportion scheme denies residents the ability to have real choice at the ballot box.

The Supreme Court has been willing to invalidate state electoral maps on the grounds of racial discrimination, as it did May 22 when it found that Republican legislators in North Carolina had drawn two electoral districts to diminish the statewide political clout of black voters.

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.