The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling that found its 2011 state redistricting plan was unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering.
The potential landmark case could impact congressional maps in around half a dozen states and legislative maps in about ten states and have major implications for the next round of redistricting after the 2020 Census, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
“Wisconsin’s gerrymander was one of the most aggressive of the decade, locking in a large and implausibly stable majority for Republicans in what is otherwise a battleground state,” said Thomas Wolf, redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s a symptom of politics going haywire and something that we increasingly see when one party has sole control of the redistricting process.”
The Hill added:
“Federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ “racial gerrymandering” are unconstitutional. In racial gerrymandering, lines are drawn to lower the influence of minority voters, sometimes by scattering them across different districts.
The challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative lines are different because the challenge revolves around whether district lines can be drawn for a partisan advantage.”
“For too long, the important task of redistricting has resembled a back-alley brawl: no rules, no referees, and no holds barred,” Dan Vicuña, Common Cause’s national redistricting manager, said in a statement.
“Technology has made it easier than ever for self-interested legislators to manipulate districts for political advantage, so it is essential that courts step in to protect voters’ fundamental constitutional rights.”
“Whitford comes at a critical juncture. Having a remedy for partisan gerrymandering is very important, especially in the South where race and politics are increasingly joined at the hip,” said Michael Li senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, “A rule against partisan gerrymandering will have a major impact for communities of color, where partisanship unfortunately has often been used as an excuse for actions that hurt minorities.”
“This is a historic opportunity to address one of the biggest problems facing our electoral system,” said Wendy Weiser director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, “Gerrymandering has become so aggressive, extreme, and effective that there is an urgent need for the Supreme Court to finally step in and set boundaries.”