Supreme Court divided over partisan districting

Gerrymandering has been around for about as long as politics, but Wisconsin’s case has an unfamiliar twist. But now is the time, the justices were told.


Passing a slew of directions on prison reforms, the Supreme Court had directed all state governments to appoint counsellors and support persons for prisoners, particularly first-time offenders. The larger the gap between those two, the more likely the districts have been manipulated to favor Republicans.

Democrats are urging the court to consider state legislative district elections, in which voters choose between candidates, as the near-equivalent of statewide proportional elections, in which voters vote for parties, not people.

Because of the specific issues involved in the Wisconsin map case, IL is unlikely to be affected even if the high court strikes down Wisconsin gerrymandering as unconstitutional. That would have the potential to undermine Republican control of the House of Representatives as well as several state legislatures. “But the answer to that question, they counter, is yes”. “They’re not brand new”, Freitag said.

The lawyer ducked an answer. It’s a proposed constitutional mandate that bars the map-drawing party from putting too heavy a finger on the scale.

Although Kennedy did not tip his hand, he had no questions for a lawyer challenging Wisconsin.

“Yes, it would be unconstitutional”, she relented. “Their party has been punished by the law of the state of Wisconsin”, Smith said.

While both parties seek maximum partisan advantage when they can, Republicans controlled more state governments after the 2010 census and aggressively used redistricting to lock in electoral advantages to last for the next 10 years.

The other judges are divided equally among the Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans now represent 13 of 18 congressional districts in Pennsylvania.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a trio of cases, captioned as NLRB v. Murphy Oil, that examined whether management commits an unfair labor practice when it requires employees to sign arbitration agreements that waive their right to wage class-action lawsuits.

More than 60 million American workers must submit to arbitration procedures implemented by their employers, according to research by Colvin, ILR’s associate dean for academic affairs, diversity and faculty development, and the Martin F. Scheinman Professor of Conflict Resolution.

The way this is done is to draw the lines so that a great many Democrats are packed into just a few districts, watering down the value of each individual vote cast.

But the justices have shied away from wading into partisan gerrymandering, mainly for lack of a “manageable standard” to define it, Rave said. It is that Democrats still haven’t accepted their loss in the 2016 election. Ironically, however, a ruling in their favor could help the GOP in the next round of redistricting. “To suggest that we need to protect democracy by leaving in place a system that does not further it, that prohibits it from actually happening, to me is ludicrous”, he said.

The case promises to show the pivotal role Justice Anthony Kennedy will play on the court this term. In a letter to the members, Jeffrey P. Minear, counselor to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., cited the justices’ “concerns surrounding the live broadcast or streaming of oral arguments, which could adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and justices”.

The judge said it was unlikely this case would be decided before the 2018 Election. “And that is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this Court in the eyes of the country”. Still, observers will watch closely what Judge Gorsuch will do and what his impact on the court will be.

Namely, attorney David Gersch argued, counts in the Pennsylvania suit that relate to freedom of speech and expression can’t be made moot by the U.S. Supremes because the state constitution has broader protections in that area. The court agreed, but the liberal justices went out of their way to note that they would have denied the application for a stay. What becomes of the precious right to vote?

It may seem gerrymandering can give a party control of the legislature, but what sort of results does that guarantee?


“You are the only institution in the United States that can solve this problem just as democracy is about to get worse”, Smith said. In Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004) they declared that since there was no workable standard to resolve the issue, courts should stay out of the business of fixing alleged partisan gerrymandering.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks after court to call for an end to partisan gerrymandering in electoral districts at the Supreme Court. REUTERS  Joshua Roberts