U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Gerrymandering in Wisconsin Case
The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a landmark case regarding the constitutionality of gerrymandering. The case is Gill v. Whitford.
Gerrymandering refers to the manipulation of county and district borders to affect the electoral constituency. This is designed for major parties, like the Democrats and Republicans, to consolidate their power unfairly within a region.
Gill v. Whitford focuses on the way the State of Wisconsin drew it’s electoral district borders. The State of Wisconsin who are the plaintiffs in the case hope that victory will set a new precedent.
Past Supreme Court decisions over gerrymandering have not focused on partisan gerrymandering. The Court took its last case regarding partisan gerrymandering in 2004 but that did not create a legislative standard.
Past Supreme Court decisions had not sought to create precedence against racial gerrymandering to ensure that there are no inherent racial biases in the voting process. Gill v. Whitford is a landmark case that aims to be the first to tackle partisan gerrymandering at the federal level.
Gill v. Whitford’s legal basis lies in an Appeals Court decision against a legislative map drafted by the 2010 Republican led Wisconsin State Assembly. The Wisconsin courts rejected the voting map because it viewed it as unconstitutional gerrymandering that severely hurt Democratic chances within the state’s districts.
While this particular case is Wisconsin-specific, it does one important thing: It will create precedent either for or against gerrymandering at the federal level.
Some political observers including former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have called for independent commissions, instead of politicians, to be in charge of redistricting. Others are focusing on other ways to remove unfair biases caused by redistricting at the state levels.
In 2004, the Supreme Court took on another partisanship gerrymandering case but was held it back by lack of a suitable standard.
The judges said it was impossible to maintain a constitutional standard when none existed but legal experts believe this is where plaintiff’s efficiency gap comes in. By looking at wasted votes, the efficiency gap standard would be able to look at how districts are created and may help them come up with a more fair, equal playing field.
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