The justices in a brief written order said they would review a redistricting case from Wisconsin, where a three-judge lower court past year invalidated a redistricting plan enacted by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature in 2011.
The justices issued their order Monday about 90 minutes after they agreed to hear the Wisconsin case in the fall, the first case on partisan politics and redistricting in more than a decade.
Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. In a 2-1 ruling, the court found that the districts were drawn in order to minimize the influence of Democratic votes, and were "designed to make it more hard for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats", the majority opinion concluded. Smith will argue the case before the Supreme Court.
Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. In fact, part of Texas' argument claims redistricting was indeed based on partisanship - something courts have allowed in the past.
The situation is similar in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, where lines drawn by Republicans have given the GOP the lion's share of the seats in Congress and state legislatures.
But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering.
The Supreme Court is wading into the thicket of partisan redistricting in a case from Wisconsin.
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At issue is the question of whether the process of drawing new election district boundaries is unconstitutional if one political party specifically creates maps giving its own candidates a distinct advantage in getting elected, directly limiting the other party's chances at the polls.
The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census. As measured by this "efficiency gap", Republicans can increase the number of the districts they control by stuffing Democratic voters into already Democratic districts.
A few times in the past, the court has taken on test cases on partisan gerrymandering, but it has refused, each time, to decide them after concluding that it could not come up with a workable constitutional formula on when partisanship had gone too far in a given redistricting process.
Walker commented while at a Wausau elementary school touting his education budget plan, which he says will give millions of dollars more in state aid to schools, including $5 million over the next two years for Wausau alone. They now have their largest majorities in the state House and Senate in decades. John McCain in the past, said partisan gerrymandering is practiced by both parties, thanks to computer software that makes selecting voters for district maps much easier than in the past.
This is the first time in more than ten years that the justices will consider allegations of gerrymandering - and observers see the their final ruling as one which impact how elections are run throughout the nation.
The case, Gill v. Whitford, arises from Wisconsin. For example, in 2012, the Republican party received about 49% of the vote but won 60 of 99 seats in the state assembly. Although the justices have frequently invalidated district maps that disadvantage minorities, they have stopped short of striking down maps favoring one political party over the other.
"As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed", Schimel said.