wnol.info July 16 2018

Eyes shift to NC in political gerrymander cases

July 16 2018, 04:44 | Irvin Gilbert

Manuel Balce Ceneta AP FILE

Manuel Balce Ceneta  AP FILE

The Wisconsin case was sent back to the lower courts with the direction that the challengers establish their "standing" to sue as individuals directly harmed by the gerrymander.

General harm to their rights to fair representation or fair consideration of their views in the legislature doesn't qualify, Chief Justice John Roberts said in the 9-0 ruling.

In the second case, the court unanimously ruled against the Republican challengers to a Democratic plan to redraw a Maryland congressional district. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, from office. After that Pennsylvania state Supreme Court ruling invalidated the state's partisan gerrymander, Republican lawmakers threatened to oust the judges - and now, they're trying to gerrymander state Supreme Court districts.

In the Wisconsin case, the court overturned a lower court ruling from November 2016.

"The opinion of the court rests on the understanding that we lack jurisdiction to decide this case, much less to draw speculative and advisory conclusions regarding others", Roberts wrote for a unanimous court. The measures include a 2015 right-to-work law and cuts to public education. The Missouri legislature also nullified St. Louis's and Kansas City's minimum wage increases.

In the Maryland case, Benisek v. Lamone, No. 17-333, Republican voters argued that Democratic state lawmakers had redrawn a congressional district to retaliate against citizens who had supported its longtime incumbent, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican.

The idea that it's good for the U.S. "Remedying the individual voter's harm, therefore, does not necessarily require restructuring all of the state's legislative districts".

Justice Elena Kagan provided an alternative route for the plaintiffs.

She said courts must find their footing to stop a partisan process that is "degrading the nation's democracy", and that map-drawing software only makes it easier to draw precise lines.

Even Roberts recognized that's important.

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He departed the Trump campaign in June 2016 following reports that his influence had waned. The American people owe an apology to those people.

On June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court kicked a closely watched case on gerrymandering back to the lower court.

But on Monday, the Supreme Court punted the case in a temporary victory for the state GOP. That's what they must do, before expanding their argument to the impact of the gerrymandered legislature. Now, at least, partisan gerrymandering challenges can live on for another day. The Court seems no closer to entering the political thicket of partisan gerrymandering than it was when Justice Kennedy wrote in Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004) "there are yet no agreed upon substantive principles of fairness in districting", and that, consequently, "we have no basis on which to define clear, manageable, and politically neutral standards for measuring the particular burden" on constitutional rights.

Pending before the court is a challenge of North Carolina's redistricting.

"Americans should redouble their efforts to fix the redistricting process before the next national redistricting in 2021 - ensuring states draw fair maps that give voters a choice", Li of the Brennan Center stated.

This is the goal of the ACLU and other partisans who brought the Wisconsin suit not to try to get districts better for voters but rather to argue they wanted districts that would have given the Democrats rather than the Republicans a majority in the past legislative races. The plaintiffs claimed the maps were drawn to minimize the political power of the opposition party, thus creating an illegal "gerrymander".

Kagan laid out a road map for future challenges, including under a test Kennedy has proposed: that partisan redistricting schemes might be judged as punishment for voters due to their past political allegiances, which would violate the First Amendment. State legislators maintained that their actions were within the limits of the law and did not violate the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

There is no way the North Carolina lines will be altered before the midterm, when the GOP is strongly favored to hold all 10 of its current seats. The formula attempts to highlight partisan imbalance among all the districts in a state, with the underlying assumption being that districts should be as competitive as possible to reduce the number of "wasted" votes.

"It's sort of weird, because we didn't lose but we didn't really win either".

Like free stuff? So do we. Some of us nearing the end of our careers happened to start practice at a time when we did have a people's Court, a court that believed in equality and ended segregation, a court that believed in democracy and ended malapportionment, a court that believed in accurate fact-finding and tried to end abuses in the system of so-called criminal justice.

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