Gerrymandering, the process of creating voting districts in ways that assure that one party’s candidate will almost always win in a general election, has been a political tradition in the United States since at least the early 1800s. Well, two centuries later, the Supreme Court is finally ready to consider whether a small group of people in a state capital can get together and draw up imaginary borders to create ‘districts’ that will assure their political party gets the most assured seats possible is a violation of the rights of voters to not be disenfranchised.
What’s perhaps even more amazing is that there is still an argument in support of this practice, constitutionally, and there is doubt as to how the court might ultimately vote. The fact that this practice has continued to exist after two centuries should help dispel the myth that America is actually a representative republic.
The Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear arguments in the Maryland gerrymandering case.
It is the second partisan gerrymandering challenge the nation’s highest court has granted this year.
Whether to grant a hearing on the case was considered by the justices in a morning conference. An order adding the case to the court’s merits docket was issued Friday afternoon. It means the court will accept full briefings and arguments in the case and issue a decision by June.
The Maryland plaintiffs had sought Supreme Court review at the same time as a Wisconsin political gerrymandering case earlier this year. The Wisconsin claims were heard in October, but the justices have not yet reached a decision in that case.
The Maryland and Wisconsin cases are similar on their face, but there are some important differences. The Maryland case challenges the redrawing of a single federal district, the 6th, to favor Democrats, while the Wisconsin case is based on the statewide redrawing of Wisconsin State Assembly districts to favor Republicans.
The two cases also allege different violations of voters’ rights under the First Amendment.
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