Gerrymandering Opponents Get Mixed Reception at Supreme Court


But now is the time, the justices were told.

"End Gerrymandering Now!" reads the sign held by Joanne Kim of Washington, D.C. Protesters gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on October 3.

"What the state is asking for here is a free pass to continue using an Assembly map that is so extreme it effectively nullifies democracy", said attorney Paul Smith, speaking for the Democratic voters from the state capital of Madison who challenged the district map.

It had been diminishing over time and left for good on December 12, 2000, when the court, in a 5-4 decision, halted the vote-counting in Florida and handed a disputed overtime presidential election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. That would provide "many of the advantages" of collective action, Kennedy said.

Redistricting typically is done by the party controlling a state's legislature.

On 1): My column didn't say that the efficiency gap was the only factor that the courts were being asked to look at.

Legislation in the state House and Senate would throw out the current system that leaves much of the work to lawmakers in favor of a commission created to reduce the influence of party leaders.

The lawyer ducked an answer. To get on the right side of Justice Kennedy, advocates know, it helps to get on the right side of the First Amendment. "Well, it's a little hard to say at this point", said the lawyer, Erin Murphy.

Nor is Wisconsin the only state where Republicans drew grossly contorted maps. In Wisconsin, the line-drawing after the 2010 census was so slick that in the next election the GOP won less than 49 percent of the vote but wound up with almost 60 percent of the seats in the state legislature's lower house.

Are Democratic and Republican politicians required by the U.S. Constitution to fight fair? In Pennsylvania five years ago, Republicans won 13 of 18 House seats with just 49% of the statewide vote. Counsel for the United States argued the right to proceed in court or arbitration as a class or collective group exists not by virtue of the NLRA, but rather, by other procedural litigation laws, such as Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which do allow for waiver of these class or collective procedures.

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"If workable standards do emerge to measure these burdens, however, courts should be prepared to order relief", Kennedy wrote in a redistricting case from Pennsylvania, Vieth v. Jubilirer. Gerry's name was linked to the last part of salamander, and the term gerrymandering was born. Several states, including California, have taken the power to draw legislative boundaries away from lawmakers and handed it to independent commissions. In Vieth v Jubelirer, a gerrymandering case from 2004, four justices rejected the notion that courts were equipped to monitor partisan gerrymandering at all.

A similar case is brewing in Maryland, but it was brought by Republicans. The larger the gap between those two, the more likely the districts have been manipulated to favor Republicans.

Which is better for Democrats? If so, they could redraw election maps after the 2020 Census in their favor. Richard Pildes, a law professor at NYU, compared Roberts' concern over getting involved in electoral disputes to that of Justice Felix Frankfurter, who objected to the court getting involved in redistricting issues.

In Tuesday's argument, the rest of the eight justices sounded split along the usual ideological lines.

"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", Roberts added.

The lower court judges accepted the formula.

"Gerrymandering is distasteful", conservative Justice Samuel Alito said.

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Steven Breyer appeared to agree with the Democratic voters, too. And ever since the mid-1900s, the Supreme Court has ducked the issue of throwing out such insane puzzles, unless the gerrymander was racially motivated. "Isn't that ― what becomes of the precious right to vote?" Under the Plaintiffs' theory, any voter, anywhere in any state, could complain that his or her vote was diminished by not being granted the right to be counted proportionally with other like-minded voters in the state to elect a proportional number within the legislature. In practice, this could mean the legislators wouldn't compromise and the GOP would win an endless series of three to two votes.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, in his first full term on the bench, was silent during an otherwise lively argument Monday in which the justices seemed closely divided.

Pennsylvania is often cited as one of the worst offenders of partisan gerrymandering.