Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up an appeal over electoral districts in Wisconsin after a lower court ruled that the state’s Republican-drawn map constitutes an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.”

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 it gives the court an opportunity to formally determine a metric on what constitutes unlawful gerrymandering, which could have major implications for the way voting districts are drawn in other states.

At issue is the new legislative map of Wisconsin, which, Judge Kenneth Ripple of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin complains, “was designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.” His Honor has a reasonably strong grasp of the obvious: Yes, partisan legislators consider their partisan interests when drawing up electoral districts. They always have. Partisan interests will always be part of the equation: If you believe that those so-called independent commissions dreamed up by our would-be electoral reformers would in fact prove non-partisan, consider how non-partisan and independent our non-partisan and independent media are — or consider how easy it is to predict which justices will vote which way in any politically charged case before our non-partisan and independent Supreme Court.

Last year a district court ordered Wisconsin to produce a new, less partisan map in time for the 2018 election. The vote to stay this order suggests that five members of the Supreme Court are leaning in the direction of doing nothing about Wisconsin’s gerrymander.

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