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News Worms

US Supreme Court Will Hear Wisconsin Redistricting Appeal

US Supreme Court Will Hear Wisconsin Redistricting Appeal

"A federal court has ruled that their partisan gerrymandering has put them in violation of not just basic fairness but the United States Constitution and ordered new maps".

After the 2010 census produced new population estimates the GOP-controlled state assembly redrew the district lines.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

The justices will hear the case in the fall.

Earlier this year a panel of three federal judges struck down Wisconsin state House district maps, drawn in 2011 by the state's Republican-majority legislature.

The nine-member high court granted Wisconsin's request, despite opposition from the four liberal justices, to put on hold the lower court's order requiring the state to redraw its electoral maps by November 1.

The challengers point to the 2012 election, the first after lawmakers drew the new map.

"The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to rein in partisan manipulation of the elections process, which has thwarted the will of the voters in numerous states", said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, in a written statement.

The Supreme Court has increasingly overturned redrawn electoral maps because they were created to reduce the influence of racial minorities, according to the Washington Post.

But the dozen plaintiffs-voters across the state-said the evidence laid out in a trial in the Wisconsin case showed that "Republican legislative leaders authorized a secretive and exclusionary mapmaking process aimed at securing for their party a large advantage that would persist no matter what happened in future elections".

The justices agreed to hear arguments on a Wisconsin map that a lower court said was created to keep Republicans in control of the state legislature even if they didn't win a majority of the votes. Both political parties do it when they can. On Monday, it was clear that these Justices favored that action, although the order did not name them explicitly; Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

"Well, I don't know that it's impossible for Democrats to win, I mean, this claim is often made in these gerrymandering cases, and then you find a couple years later that the party for whom it was "impossible to win" has actually won the election".

Rep. Peter Barca, Wisconsin state Assembly Democratic minority leader: "Voters should be able to choose their representatives, not the other way around, and I have faith that the Supreme Court will do the right thing to help end the bad polarization we see in both Wisconsin and across America".

Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, who has worked on behalf of Republican candidates such as U.S. Sen.

Do we want a democracy in which politicians (of any party) can virtually assure their re-election and continued dominance in a state simply because of the way that they draw the maps?

William Whitford, a retired law school professor, and 11 other Democrats challenged the resulting map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

The 2-1 decision that struck down Wisconsin's legislative map found Republicans were so partisan and so precise in their drawing of Wisconsin's legislative map in 2011 that they had silenced the voices of Democratic voters in the process.

The court has wrestled with the question of partisan gerrymandering before but has been unable to reach a conclusion on potential limits to the practice.

The state argues recent election results favoring Republicans were "a reflection of Wisconsin's natural political geography", with Democrats concentrated in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison.


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