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Supreme Court to Hear Partisan Gerrymandering Case This Fall

by Countable | 6.19.17

The Supreme Court will add a potentially landmark case concerning partisan gerrymandering to its docket for the fall. The Washington Post reports:

"The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted.”

The case in question concerns redistricting in Wisconsin, and whether the most recent changes to the state’s electoral map intentionally disadvantaged Democrats. The state’s Republican legislative leaders appealed to the court to reject any effort to remove redistricting decisions from state control in order to aid groups who didn’t gain the election outcome they wanted:

"[reject any effort that] wrests control of districting away from the state legislators to whom the state constitution assigns that task, and hands it to federal judges and opportunistic plaintiffs seeking to accomplish in court what they failed to achieve at the ballot box.”

The plaintiffs, in contrast, argue:

"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."

Unlike previous partisan gerrymandering cases that have come before the Court, this one involves what plaintiffs argue is an objective method for assessing the extent of partisan gerrymandering in any given district, called the "efficiency gap." The Post defines the “efficiency gap” as “the difference between the wasted votes of the two parties in an election divided by the total number of votes cast.”

If the Court affirms the "efficiency gap" as a reasonable tool under law it could be used to reassess district maps all over the country. The case will now officially come before the Supreme Court in the fall. Their fall case schedule begins in October.

Should the Supreme Court find some way to assess partisan gerrymanders? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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