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  • 06.19.17

SCOTUS is finally taking on partisan gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court is going to look at how legislative districts are drawn, specifically whether political parties are abusing the process to unfairly favor their own party at the expense of voters’ rights, the AP reports. While there is nothing inherently wrong with redrawing a voting district, the so-called process of gerrymandering based on race is illegal under the Voting Rights Act and courts have frequently weighed in on those cases. This case, though, looks at redistricting done for purely partisan reasons, something that both major political parties have taken advantage of over the years.

In October, the justices will hear arguments about whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew electoral districts in such a way as to unconstitutionally dilute the political power of Democratic voters. A three-judge court struck down Wisconsin’s district map in November on grounds that the plan was so partisan that it violated the First Amendment and equal rights protections. They ordered new maps to be drawn up for the 2018 elections. 

The Washington Post points out that the hopes of Democrats in the Wisconsin case may be dashed, because in the past the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering. If it should change course this time, though, it could have far-reaching implications for the next round of line drawing, due after the 2020 election. Currently Republicans control the process in the majority of states. 

To find out more about gerrymandering and why it really matters, watch John Oliver explain it on Last Week Tonight

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