Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map

Supreme Court Will Hear Gerrymandering Case

Then they will have a response deadline of Friday, July 7. Whitford, however, offers a different framework that the Supreme Court has demonstrated great difficulty in tackling in the recent past.

Finally, there is no question that greatly altering district boundaries makes elections more competitive, and since Republicans have been the primary benefactors of the current wave of partisan gerrymanders, clearly Democrats will disproportionally benefit from redistricting of this kind. The case could have a major impact on how district lines are drawn up nationwide. That happened before in 2006-2007, he added. The two top Republicans in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, say they're confident the Supreme Court will affirm the GOP maps.

As debate surrounding gerrymandered districts has stayed on the front pages, Republican legislators have fired back, saying that Democrats did their fair share of gerrymandering during the decades in which they controlled the General Assembly. Computer software increasingly helps them create safe districts for their most conservative and liberal candidates, whose success invariably leads to more partisan gridlock in government.

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to tackle partisan gerrymandering and sort through arguments about whether an electoral system is rigged or, instead, a party's political advantage is due to changing attitudes and demographics.

In its opinion striking down the Wisconsin map, the lower court invoked the 1st Amendment and the 14th Amendment's equal protection formula in defining an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

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It's the first time in more than a decade that the nation's highest court will take up the issue of partisan gerrymandering, or drawing voting districts with the aim of strengthening one political party. And ultimately, it will be Justice Kennedy who determines if the Wisconsin case brings a satisfactory way of having the courts intercede in this most political of activities in the United States. Smith says the court can decide the case in time for new maps to be drawn for the 2018 fall election.

In Maryland, Republican voters have filed a lawsuit alleging Democrats gerrymandered seats there and Democrats in Pennsylvania have also filed a lawsuit alleging gerrymandering by the Republicans.

J. Wesley Leckrone, Associate Professor at Widener University, told Radio Sputnik that the Supreme Court decision to hear the case shows the extent to which gerrymandering has affected American politics.

In the Wisconsin case, the state contends Wisconsin is a purple state in national elections, but its geography favors Republicans in state elections. In 2012, Republicans won 53% of the vote but 72% of the House seats in states where they drew the lines.

The measure, called the efficiency gap, shows how cracking (breaking up blocs of Democratic voters) and packing (concentrating Democrats within certain districts) results in wasted votes - excess votes for winners in safe districts and perpetually inadequate votes for the losers. And in other areas, they said, Republicans packed Democrats into a few districts to limit their ability to control more seats.

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