How a gerrymandering case in Wisconsin could affect elections in Pennsylvania

How a gerrymandering case in Wisconsin could affect elections in Pennsylvania

But the court, hearing a nationally watched Wisconsin case, also questioned how hard it could be to prove partisan map-making as a constitutional and practical matter. In 1986, the court said a political gerrymander could conceivably be justiciable, but it has never discovered what Justice Anthony Kennedy terms "a manageable standard".

Others - most importantly, Kennedy - have said extreme partisan gerrymandering can violate constitutional rights. "That no such standard has emerged in this case should not be taken to prove that none will emerge in the future", Kennedy argued. In 2004, the court heard a similar case, in which Democratic voters in Pennsylvania argued they were disenfranchised by the state's maps because they were overly partisan.

Lawyers for Wisconsin Democratic voters tried to convince justices Tuesday that a measurable standard or test exists: the so-called efficiency gap.

Murphy questioned whether the challengers had legal standing to bring the lawsuit.

The efficiency gap, which is easier to understand than to describe, is not a flawless solution to the problem of partisan gerrymanders.

The need for a costly Supreme Court legal battle could have been avoided if leaders in the Legislature had simply fixed the maps after federal courts ruled them unconstitutional.

In Gill v. Whitford, Democrats found a favorable three-judge district court, but a five-vote majority of the Supreme Court blocked the ruling from taking effect while the court considers the case. The justices potentially could issue a narrow decision sending the case back to lower courts without resolving the question of whether hearings are required.

UN human rights chief urges probe into violence during referendum in Catalonia
A general strike threatens to bring large areas of Catalonia to a standstill, following the Spanish region's disputed referendum . The Catalonian government has asked the European Union to mediate the dispute between it and Madrid. "We do need mediation ".

Voting rights advocates are hoping that time has come. The GOP redistricting plan succeeded in preserving Republican control of the legislature despite their losing a majority of voters statewide. Using sophisticated computer modelling and thousands of alternative maps, Wisconsin Republicans mustered new lines delivering them almost two-thirds of the state Assembly seats in 2012 and 2016 despite a voting bloc comprising only about half of the electorate.

This wasn't just a problem in Wisconsin. The broader effort is meant to rig elections so that Republicans always have the advantage, enabling them to hold on to power even when a majority of voters would prefer Democrats. Democratic voters are heavily clustered in central cities, sympathetic suburbs and university towns, while Republican voters are more evenly spread around. In one election, the GOP won a 60-seat majority in the 99-seat chamber despite winning just 48 percent of the vote.

Urging the Supreme Court to crack down on Wisconsin Republicans for political gerrymandering, an attorney for voters warned the justices Tuesday that turning a blind eye will only embolden Machiavellian lawmakers to embrace advancing technology.

Both district lines were drawn in 2015 through a redistricting law that the suit claims violates the Voting Rights Act and Fourteenth Amendment. However, under the court-devised plan in the previous decade, in five elections the Republicans won an average of 55.2 seats with an average of 49.1 percent of the statewide vote. Griffin's argument, boiled down, is that the D.R. Horton case was the NLRB's first opportunity explicitly to address the legality of a mandatory employment agreement requiring employees to arbitrate individually, and since then, the board has consistently said such agreements are illegal.

With technological improvements making gerrymandering easier than ever, and a new Census on the horizon, critics of the practice say the court has to act now to place boundaries on it. In this case, the Supreme Court must say no to gerrymandering so that voters can choose their elected officials, instead of the other way around. So by the 1960s, MI had one (Democratic) district with 802,000 people and one (Republican) district with 177,000.

"Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering", he said. The question: Are extreme partisan gerrymanders violations of either the equal protection clause or possibly the First Amendment? Gill v Whitford concerns precision-engineered legislative maps in Wisconsin, districts no one stood up to defend on the merits.

That set of tests would likely limit the number of maps struck down for being too partisan, Beyer said. It happens to be right now that Republicans control way more legislatures. "If it was the most extreme map they could make, why isn't that enough to prove...unconstitutional gerrymandering?"