Anthony Kennedy's Questioning Suggests Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Could Be in Danger

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To the Scotusblog lawyers, it seemed "Dimaya has a fair chance of prevailing in the Supreme Court [with] Gorsuch, the possible deciding vote in the case".

Forcing the baker to "create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights", the Justice Department stated in a brief filed in September.

The Wisconsin case, Gill v. Whitford, is the first of several legal battles working through the courts right now that Democrats hope will curb partisan and racial gerrymandering.

Professor Banks adds that while the Supreme Court will face multiple important decisions down the line, a few already stick out to him. The plaintiffs in the case are average Wisconsin citizens who believe deeply in democracy and believe that the right to vote is a right worth fighting for.

Kennedy interrupted Misha Tseytlin, Wisconsin's solicitor general, to ask whether that argument still applied if the challengers in Wisconsin had suffered a First Amendment violation. I should point out that two of the three employment arbitration cases before the court involved private disputes, not the government. He didn't find one in that case, ruling against Democrats challenging a Republican gerrymander in the state. In an exchange with Paul Smith, the lawyer representing the Wisconsin challengers, Roberts said a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would unleash a wave of redistricting challenges the court would be obligated to hear.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of the immigrants, says about 34,000 immigrants are being detained on any given day in the United States, and 90 percent of immigrants' cases are resolved within six months. Its appropriate that it comes from Wisconsin, because that state may be the best microcosm of our broader political situation: though its closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, the states GOP has been utterly ruthless in attempting to make their control of the levers of power permanent, the will of the voters be damned.

The stakes are high: Right now, Democrats are the majority party in just 31 of the nation's 98 partisan state legislative chambers. "And as Republicans try to silence people's voices and limit one of our most fundamental rights, Democrats will continue fighting for the equal voice every voter deserves". After the new maps were passed, Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats in the state Assembly in the 2012 election, despite the fact that they carried only 47 percent of the vote. MI is among the states that could be forced to withdraw their own maps if Supreme Court justices agree that the "efficiency gap" identified by the lower court gives Wisconsin's Republicans an unconstitutional advantage to translate their votes into legislative representation.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that a decision upholding the Republican-drawn districts in Wisconsin would encourage one party's lawmakers to stack the deck against their opponents when they control the process and reduce the number of legitimately contested elections. The two scholars who developed the efficiency gap, Nicholas Stephanopoulos of the University of Chicago and Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of California, found that "the plans in effect today" in states like Wisconsin "are the most extreme gerrymanders in modern history".

"We must terminate gerrymandering".

It is instructive that the phrase "partisan gerrymandering" - the drawing of district lines by one party to disadvantage the other - is a redundancy.

So the subtext of the discussion about the NLRB's position seems to me to be that even independent executive branch agencies change their minds when administrations change - a perhaps unremarkable observation except when the Supreme Court is considering how much credence it should place in an agency's legal reasoning.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts raised concerns about the high court being forced to take on a supervisory role in approving or rejecting future state electoral maps. His point was that the court could never agree on a workable standard to outlaw gerrymandering.

"Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering". She said independent commissions in other states have become corrupt and they are not accountable to the voters, like legislators. "I suspect that is manageable", Breyer said.

If a single standard did emerge, it will probably resemble a multi-part test proposed by Justice Breyer, which asks questions like whether a single party controlled the map-drawing process, whether the maps give an asymmetrical advantage to one party, and whether that advantage is likely to persist over many elections.