Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

It's a practice federal courts are already familiar with when it comes to allegations of racial bias in redistricting, resulting in protracted legal battles that have often stretched on for years.

What is at stake here, both if the U.S. Supreme Court takes this up, and if it decides not to?

Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

The way America conducts its elections could soon be upended by a landmark Supreme Court case. So, we're hoping they will re affirm that, and then also say, "this is a standard we can actually use in multiple states", Greenwood says.

We spoke with one of the plaintiffs who told us that one of the problems with the maps - or I guess probably the biggest problem with the maps - is that it is impossible for Democrats to win. In our stay application, I argued that requiring the Legislature to re-draw district maps this year would have been a waste of resources.

Schimel says the stay "preserves the Legislature's time, effort and resources while this case is pending".

But the Court's four liberals dissented, and Anthony Kennedy filed a concurrence arguing that it was possible the Court could develop such a standard in the future.

"If the court is not willing to draw a line here, it would suggest the court is unlikely ever to feel comfortable setting a limit", said Richard Pildes, an election law expert at New York University's law school. And there's also a dark cloud hanging over this case - and, indeed, the next several decades of life in the United States - that will matter just as much as whether Kennedy buys the plaintiffs' theory in Whitford.

The issue is reaching the high court at a time when both Republicans and Democrats have improved the art of drawing congressional and legislative maps to entrench themselves in office for a decade at a time. The state's lawyers said the districts were compact and neatly drawn. In addition, Republican legislative leaders hired a pair of law firms to represent them before the Supreme Court. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton - all played a role in the state's last round of redistricting, but none had weighed in on the U.S Supreme Court's announcement as of midday Monday.

Their lawsuit claimed that Republicans spread Democrats thin among some districts so that they could not achieve a majority.

The issue has torn the court for decades.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remains confident that GOP-drawn legislative district maps will survive a Supreme Court review. That weakened African-American voting strength elsewhere in the state, the court said.

In its decision, the majority in the court panel decision wrote that the Assembly district map, which was drawn in the office of a Madison law firm that often represents Republican interests, "was meant to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters.by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats".

The nation's highest court announced its decision to take the case in a brief order Monday. Dissenting was U.S. Chief Judge William Griesbach of Milwaukee.

HARRISBURG - The time may be ripe for the Legislature to take a crack at fixing the way districts for lawmakers are defined, said Carol Kuniho...

The team working on behalf of the Democratic voters contends that it has found a way to measure unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders created to give a "large and durable" advantage in elections to pone party - a measure that the Supreme Court has said was lacking in previous cases contending a partisan gerrymander. Voters are either "cracked", pushed into districts where their party has no chance of winning; or "packed", crammed into districts where their party has such an overwhelming majority that additional votes for their candidate are superfluous. North Carolina's congressional delegation tilts 10-3 Republican.

"They ruled we redraw the lines but have given no clear institutions how to do it", Collins said.

Campaign Legal Center attorney Paul Smith is the lead lawyer in the case challenging the maps.

  • Archie Newman