WHAT IT IS
- In 2016, a U.S. District Court in Wisconsin ruled that redrawn district lines were unconstitutional, as they heavily favored Republican voters to the point of hurting Democratic voters; Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is currently appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
- Gerrymandering = abuse by redrawing the lines in ways that benefit their (political party in power) own party.
- Every 10 years, after each census, state governments are responsible for redrawing district lines to better represent the population.
WHY IT MATTERS
When gerrymandering occurs, whichever party is in power can eliminate competition from the opposing party in future elections and theoretically can hold onto power much longer. The process can make voters in certain areas have less impact on state and congressional elections. The Supreme Court has previously avoided ruling on the process.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- In the past, the Supreme Court has never ruled before that gerrymandering is unconstitutional.
- Nov. 2016, the Supreme Court sent a case involving racial gerrymandering back down to the lower court where the lower court again ruled that the redrawn maps were constitutional.
- In late 2017 or early 2018, the court will hear the Wisconsin gerrymandering case.
- The Supreme Court is required to hear cases involving redistricting, but can choose to decline to hear oral arguments.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
- If the court affirms the district court ruling that the redistricting was unconstitutional, Republicans and Democrats could flood the court system with cases.
- Is there a better way to redistrict than have state legislatures (inheritably run by a majority political party) decide the maps?
- Will the Supreme Court simply punt again, and avoid ruling that it is unconstitutional?