Redistricting lawsuit may be too late for 2018

Posted October 07, 2017

Kennedy tried again and still got no answer. It's a proposed constitutional mandate that bars the map-drawing party from putting too heavy a finger on the scale.

Although Kennedy did not tip his hand, he had no questions for a lawyer challenging Wisconsin.

"Yes, it would be unconstitutional", she relented. The claim isn't that one party has "a right not to have votes wasted at higher rates than another".

Between the 1970s and 1990s, Wisconsin's state-assembly maps averaged an efficiency gap of 1.5% in Republicans' favour.

For example, the 7th Congressional District - which some say looks like Goofy kicking Donald Duck in the backside - was redrawn by Republicans in Harrisburg to include seven heavily Republican municipalities in eastern Lancaster County that were previously in the 16th District. And ever since the mid-1900s, the Supreme Court has ducked the issue of throwing out such insane puzzles, unless the gerrymander was racially motivated. They argue the maps represent extreme partisan gerrymander and that they prevent fair and effective representation by diluting voters' influence and penalizing voters based on their political beliefs. There will be many cases, maybe a lot of them, where it's impossible, no matter how much math you do, to tell the difference between innocuous decision making and a scheme - like Wisconsin's - created to protect one party from voters who might prefer the other. Six states use independent commissions, and limit or bar elected officials, legislative staff or lobbyists from serving on them.

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Hearing roughly an hour of arguments in the case, the nine justices opened their new nine-month term after a three-month break, with a series of major cases lined up in the coming months regarding voting rights, religious liberty, union funding and other issues. In the 2016 election, 46 percent of North Carolina voters cast their ballots for Democrats, yet only 24 percent ended up with Democratic congressmen. Ironically, however, a ruling in their favor could help the GOP in the next round of redistricting.

They're partly right. The clustering of Democrats in cities does indeed give the Republicans an edge.

But Judge Pelligrini said even if the court moves the case along as quickly as possible, he doesn't see how it will be in time for the 2018 elections. In a letter to the members, Jeffrey P. Minear, counselor to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., cited the justices' "concerns surrounding the live broadcast or streaming of oral arguments, which could adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and justices". They say class-action suits can take years in the courts to resolve, and primarily benefit the lawyers who bring such cases.

"This is a case where we are likely to have a court of one: Justice Kennedy", said former solicitor general Greg Garre, who served under Republican former President George W. Bush. He suggested striking down this law "would cause serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country".

"Gerrymandering is distasteful", conservative Justice Samuel Alito said.

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The big question is whether Justice Kennedy believes there is "manageable standard" for the court to intervene. If the Court similarly holds that workers do not have a substantive right under the NLRA to vindicate their labor and employment rights collectively, then it is likely that soon nearly every non-union worker will face even more limitations to real justice.

What about the "precious right to vote"? asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A federal district court ruled 2-1 a year ago that those districts discriminated against Democratic voters "by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats".

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he did not need any "gobbledygook" to rule against the Wisconsin plan. With less than half the total vote, Republicans in Wisconsin obtained a substantial majority in the legislature.

It may seem gerrymandering can give a party control of the legislature, but what sort of results does that guarantee?

So Republicans gained a half-dozen new congressmen from Texas, by jerking districts out from under some senior Democrats - part of a partisan plot devised by then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, to increase his party's cushion in Congress. "That's going to become the norm".

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