George Will: Court falling into political thicket

George Will: Court falling into political thicket

In a 2004 partisan gerrymander case, conservatives on the court said they thought the issue should be handled by the political branches. Based on his questioning, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's key swing vote, gave the impression that he was looking for a way to invalidate Wisconsin's maps and possibly set an important precedent against this type of gerrymandering.

Gill v. Whitford, docket 16-1161, is a case involving "extreme partisan gerrymandering". But Kennedy was unwilling to bar all such future claims because he thought a workable standard to measure when there is an overreliance on politics might arise down the road. Today, Oct. 3, plaintiffs in the case Gill v. Whitford were at the United States Supreme Court shining a light on what the foundation of a fair democracy should be - nonpartisan electoral maps that keep communities together rather than divide them. "Suppose ... the court found this is a First Amendment issue, not en equal protection issue?"

Legal experts say a decision in support of those challenging Wisconsin's districts could have ripple effects in states like Pennsylvania, where Republicans have held 13 of the 18 U.S. House since the last redistricting process. That Kennedy focused his questions on the Wisconsin side suggested he had a problem with the maps the Legislature had drawn and was looking for a reasonable way to strike them down. In spite of the fact that Florida is a "purple state" - with narrow advantages in both registered party affiliation and presidential outcomes in recent elections - U.S. House races do not reflect that competitiveness.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch said a court-approved formula for identifying unconstitutional gerrymandering would be hard to achieve, comparing various standards proposed to spices on a steak dinner.

The case comes at a crucial time. We will most likely know in June whether the Court's right flank managed to pull him back into their fold. The state of Wisconsin denies that the Republican legislature engaged in extreme redrawing of legislative district lines to perpetuate the party's power.

According to the efficiency gap, Minnesota's current maps have a one-seat Democratic advantage in congressional races and a slight Republican advantage in state House and Senate races, but not almost enough to fall into gerrymandering territory. "I'd never seen anything like that before", one Wisconsin state senator, a Republican, told Emily Bazelon of the Times. But technological advances that make it possible to predict voter behavior with greater accuracy and precision allowed Republicans who controlled the redistricting process in most states after the 2010 Census an unprecedented advantage. Two years later, Republicans won 52 percent of the statewide vote in Wisconsin - yet won 63 of the 99 Assembly seats.

Kildee put his name on a brief, along with some other Democrats and Republicans in Congress, urging the Supreme Court to find the Wisconsin district maps unconstitutional. 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.

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David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said Rauner should consider running in the gubernatorial primary as a Democrat. The restrictions were signed into law previous year by Vice President Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana.

Justice Kennedy opened the argument by asking Clement, representing all three employers, if he'd conceded a class action lawsuit would be a "concerted action" under Section 7.

"We'll have to decide in every case whether the Democrats win or the Republicans win", Roberts said, a scenario that he said would damage the court's credibility. "It must be because the Supreme Court preferred the Democrats over Republicans'".

Chief Justice John Roberts anxious about involving the Supreme Court in a glut of partisan redistricting claims that would follow if the Wisconsin Democrats prevail.

"Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering".

Partisan gerrymandering has always been a feature of our democracy - decried by all as unfair and undemocratic, but tolerated because it seemed inevitable, and because every side hopes that it can construct its own gerrymanders once it gains power. Kennedy said. He then used an analogy of one party confiscating the campaign signs of the opposing party. An Ohio state representative once regarded his own district as "a seahorse cut up by a boat propeller", and Maryland's Third Congressional District reminded a federal judge, more recently, of "a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state".

"I'm obviously disappointed by what the court did [in Texas]", Holder said.

"There's only one prediction that's entirely safe of the upcoming term, and that is it will be momentous", Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said at an event last week, according to Fox News.