Lawmakers differ sharply on Supreme Court decision


The Supreme Court announced Monday it will consider if politically gerrymandered electoral maps in Wisconsin are unconstitutional, which could have a major impact on US elections.

Courts have rejected district election maps on grounds they were drawn outlandishly to disadvantage minority voters.

While the high court has suggested states can unconstitutionally draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, King said, the point at which states cross the constitutional line has never been specified.

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says the Republican governor "is confident Wisconsin's redistricting process is constitutional and is pleased to see the Supreme Court take the case".

That court said Wisconsin lawmakers redrew the state's legislative districts after the 2010 census to unlawfully maximize the number of Republicans elected and dilute the power of Democratic voters. That year Republicans won 60 of 99 State Assembly seats even while losing the statewide vote. The map, Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote for the majority, "was created to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats". If the Supreme Court sides with the lower court, the out-of-power party in states across the country - whether Republican or Democrat - would have a new avenue for challenging maps.

In the meantime, state lawmakers have used political affiliation as a way to draw electoral maps, and an increasing chorus of political groups blames partisan gerrymandering for a growing divide in Congress and state legislatures. But the high court could ultimately establish a new limit on the role politics plays into redistricting.

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The lower court found that redistricting efforts are unlawful partisan gerrymandering when they seek to entrench the party in power, and have no other legitimate justification.

"Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory", Whitford's attorney, Paul Smith of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement.

Republicans argue they are successful because they run better candidates in a state that is trending Republican. He's often the swing vote, and he was one of the justices who put the lower court ruling on hold Monday. It is time for the Supreme Court to declare that it is wrong when a majority of the voters in a state favor one set of policies, but partisan district boundaries mean that a majority of their representatives are opposed to those policies.

The case in the short term could affect congressional maps in about half a dozen states and legislative maps in about 10 states, before having major implications for the post-2020 redistricting, according to the New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice. The liberal wing of the court - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - would not have blocked the order and let the redistricting proceed. A divided panel ruled that the maps violated the constitution.

Democrats accused Republicans of using the districting process to disadvantage Democratic voters.

Said another way, Republicans control 77 percent of the seats, despite winning just 53 percent of the vote. In the process, the Supreme Court will decide the rules every other state has to follow too. Republicans disagree. They say the maps reflect the population: districts are mainly blue, or Democratic, in urban areas, while districts elsewhere are mainly red, or Republican.