Supreme Court Will Hear Landmark Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case that challenges partisan gerrymandering, and whether the districting that generally aids Republican candidates is unconstitutional.

The New York Times reports that the challengers in the case, Gill v. Whitford, allege that they have found a way to distinguish partisanship when districts are drawn, versus the other natural needs in districting decisions. In the past, cases that seek to end partisan gerrymandering have failed, because the justices were unable to concur on what the standard for constitutional districting was.

This case originates from the situation in Wisconsin, where in 2010, Republicans gained control during a redistricting year and drew a map for the State Assembly that disproportionately favored Republican candidates:

In 2012, Republicans won 48.6 percent of the statewide vote for Assembly candidates but captured 60 of the Assembly’s 99 seats. In 2014, 52 percent of the vote yielded 63 seats.

Last year, a divided three-judge Federal District Court panel ruled that Republicans had gone too far. The map, Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote for the majority, “was designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.”


A different kind of gerrymandering was addressed by the Supreme Court in May, when it was ruled that lines drawn in North Carolina along racial demographics were unconstitutional.

CNN reports that the court granted a request from Wisconsin to freeze maps in the state as they currently are until they hear the case next term. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented in this decision.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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Mary, Queen of Scoffs

This case is a really big deal.

While the courts have treated racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering differently, politicians use them in the same way: both types of gerrymandering are ways to manipulate elections so that the politicians drawing the district maps can make sure that they will easily get elected. Incumbents use gerrymandering to give themselves an unfair advantage.

If partisan gerrymandering is ruled un-constitutional it will go a long way toward fixing what is wrong with America. It won’t solve EVERYTHING - but having a congress that actually represents the interests of the people would help a lot.