Supreme Court to decide whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional

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"Both parties draw congressional and legislative districts to their own advantage", the Washington Post's Robert Barnes notes.

The state asked the Supreme Court to block that requirement on the assumption that the justices would hear its appeal in the 2017 term, which begins in October.

"Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory", Smith added. He said: "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".

"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.

"Hyper-partisan gerrymandering is an attack on our democracy".

A three-judge court struck down the districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander and ordered new ones to be put in place for the 2018 elections. "The court has never had a clear approach to partisan gerrymandering once it made a decision to start hearing these cases at all".

In the Wisconsin case, a federal court struck down the districts as unconstitutional in November, finding they were drawn to unfairly minimize the influence of Democratic voters.

In the majority decision for the three-judge panel, Kenneth Ripple - a judge appointed by President Reagan to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - found that Wisconsin's 2011 State Assembly district map violates both the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a brief to the Supreme Court to affirm the lower court's ruling in favor of Whitford.

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Venturing into what one justice recently called the "always unsavory" process of drawing election districts for partisan advantage, the court will try to set a standard - something it has failed to do in the past. Kennedy didn't dismiss the court's ability to strike down a partisan map and said that if some standard was defined, the court could potentially step in to strike down a partisan gerrymander.

In last year's report, "The Most Exciting Attack On Partisan Gerrymandering In Over A Decade", ThinkProgress Justice Editor Ian Millhiser wrote, "a dozen years after [Justice] Kennedy despaired for want of a workable way to uncover partisan gerrymanders, two young scholars may have cracked the code".

The efficiency gap is also part of a similar case in North Carolina that challenges that state's congressional districts. He could be the swing vote in the Wisconsin case.

Democrats accused Republicans of using the districting process to disadvantage Democratic voters.

The national group Patriotic Millionaires put out a statement Monday supporting the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case.

One can see how this method would make Democratic votes less equal than Republicans votes because, under this map, Republicans won two thirds of the seats with just 48.6 per cent of the vote. That resulted in Democrats casting a large number of "wasted votes" - that is, votes that are not needed to elect a candidate. The court said that tendency did not entirely account for how one-sided the maps are.

"It shows us how much imbalance there is in the wasting of votes", Burden said. With Gov. Scott Walker leading Wisconsin, Republicans have enjoyed complete control of state government since the maps went into effect in 2012.

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in the case could have an immediate impact. It said redistricting efforts were unlawful partisan gerrymandering when they sought to entrench the party in power, and had no other legitimate justification.

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