Maryland Gerrymander Case Offers Unique Test to High Court

Supreme Court puts gerrymandering in the spotlight

Supreme Court puts gerrymandering in the spotlight

This theory is different than arguments raised in the Wisconsin and North Carolina cases now pending before the justices.

The First Amendment framework also means the Maryland plaintiffs do not inundate the justices with the stream of social-science metrics cited by the Wisconsin plaintiffs as proof that their map unfairly advantaged Republicans. "It was a decision that was made by those that set up the statutory process that put the pen for redistricting in the hand of whichever man or woman the people elected to be governor", he said.

In the Maryland case arguments Wednesday, Michael Kimberly, the attorney for the Republican plaintiffs, argued that the map drawers succeeded in "rigging" an election and that the average American voter understands what is going on.

In Wisconsin, Democrats are challenging legislative districts drawn by Republicans statewide. That would dilute the influence of the two major parties in a state where 1 in 3 voters identify as independents.

Maryland's case provides a bit of counterprogramming to the national image of partisan gerrymandering as a Republican sport.

The Supreme Court has never struck down districts for being too partisan.

The Wisconsin map gave Republicans almost two-thirds of the state Assembly seats in an otherwise politically balanced state.

Kennedy feared a compressed timeline would disrupt the electoral process, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out the plaintiffs waited three full electoral cycles before bringing a lawsuit, suggesting time is not a pressing matter.

Rather than decide that case quickly, the justices opted to hear the Maryland case, which is different in several respects.

The new lines incorporated a portion of the Washington, D.C., suburbs, adding tens of thousands of Democratic voters to the west Maryland district.

Supreme Court puts gerrymandering in the spotlight

Maryland and Wisconsin are not alone in their political favoritism.

Now, as it happens, while the Wisconsin case involves a redistricting that strongly favors the Republicans (although only at the state legislative district level), the Maryland redistricting under scrutiny Wednesday favors the Democrats. Pennsylvania elections may not affect SC college students, but the midterm elections (and national election) certainly do, and the change in gerrymandering policy in Pennsylvania may find its way south of the Mason-Dixon line soon enough.

More importantly, it suggests that Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote nearly certainly controls the outcome, has reservations about using the Wisconsin case for the court's first-ever ruling that districting plans that entrench one party's control of the legislature or congressional delegation can violate the constitutional rights of the other party's voters.

"They're able to actually point to an oddity in the way in which the district lines were drawn and then there are smoking gun statements about why it was done that way", Briffault said in an interview.

"Plaintffs prevailed in what this court has described as 'one of the most widespread racial gerrymanders ever held unconstitutional by a federal court.' " Raleigh lawyer Edwin Speas Jr. said in court papers, referring to his side's accomplishment. Republicans who filed the Maryland appeal complain that Democrats who controlled the state government in 2011 drew a congressional district for the express objective of ousting the Republican incumbent and replacing him with a Democrat. AT&T wants antitrust chief to testify in merger trial Experts fear United States losing ground to China on AI MORE (D). He joked that both areas had farms, but one had "hobby farms" while the other had "real" ones. The new lines made the 6th District more competitive and returned it to a configuration consistent with its history, the brief states.

The map drawing process should be opened up to the community to have meetings across the state to propose their own maps and debate them, so that citizens feel like they are being fairly represented in their congressional districts, McGlone said.

"We don't have to say something like that to deal with this case because, however much you think is too much, this case is too much", Kagan said to laughter in the courtroom.

"To the extent that there are examples of Democratic gerrymandering, yeah, all I want is a fair fight".

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