WI attorney general happy redistricting on hold

WI attorney general happy redistricting on hold

Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review.

Recent high-profile gerrymandering cases have focused primarily on the racial impact of redistricting.

But the court has not ever ruled on electoral maps that have been re-drawn simply to give a political advantage to one party over another.

The Supreme Court is wading into the thicket of partisan redistricting in a case from Wisconsin.

Democratic state senate minority leader Jennifer Shilling said, "Republican efforts to suppress voters, restrict voting rights and rig elections through gerrymandered maps have already been ruled unconstitutional by multiple courts.Democrats will continue to champion non-partisan redistricting reform to empower citizens and restore fairness to our election process".

He represents a dozen Democratic voters who sued Wisconsin over its electoral map for the state Assembly. The court also announced it will hear arguments in the case brought by Democrats challenging the constitutionality of the existing maps.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

The challengers to the Wisconsin districts said it is an extreme example of redistricting that has led to ever-increasing polarization in American politics because so few districts are genuinely competitive between the parties.

In most states, both parties draw congressional and legislative districts to their own advantage - a challenge to a congressional plan drawn by Maryland Democrats is making its way through the courts. "In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line", he told CNN.

The Supreme Court has never struck down districts because of unfair partisan advantage, although it has intervened frequently in disputes over race and redistricting over the past 50 years.

Paul Smith, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said gerrymandering "is worse now than any time in recent memory".

Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel welcomed the justices' decision to hear the state's appeal and called the state's redistricting process "entirely lawful and constitutional".

Before 2011, the last two electoral maps were drawn by federal judges after the legislature was unable to reach agreement.

The measurement could appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has said he is willing to referee claims of excessively partisan redistricting, but only if the court can find a workable way to do so.

Do we want a democracy in which politicians (of any party) can virtually assure their re-election and continued dominance in a state simply because of the way that they draw the maps? But in the Wisconsin case, the district court relied more on the First Amendment's right to free association. "This could become the most important election law case in years if not decades", said Joshua Douglas, a University of Kentucky College of Law professor and co-editor of the book "Election Law Stories". And "that work is proceeding".

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into GOP electoral majorities. In essence, the standard, created by a law professor and a political science professor, provides a numerical way to test the partisan disadvantage in a redistricting plan. They say party leaders have gone too far in rigging the system in their favor.

The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census.

The issue of gerrymandering - creating districts that often are oddly shaped, with the aim of benefiting one party - is central to the debate.

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