Partisan Gerrymandering

Since the nation's founding, redistricting has offered ample opportunity for manipulation and self-dealing. In fact, in the nation’s very first congressional election, James Madison himself had to run in a district drawn by his opponents.
 
But in recent years, the problem has gotten worse. Many now agree that unchecked partisan gerrymandering could threaten democracy, promote polarization, and undermine effective representation. Courts have recognized the harm from gerrymandering, but have offered little recourse, unable to agree on a manageable standard for when a redistricting plan crosses the line from permissible line drawing to unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.
 
Fortunately, this may be changing. For the first time in more than a decade, the Supreme Court appears poised to take up the issue, possibly as early as the 2017-2018 term. As key cases work through the lower courts, with the potential for others to follow, the worst excesses of partisan gerrymandering soon could be checked.

2017 and 2018 likely will see a flurry of activity in redistricting cases around the country.

A calendar of upcoming deadlines and hearings in key redistricting cases including partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland, and racial gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Virginia.

Pleadings in key redistricting cases before the courts in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Since 1986, courts have recognized partisan gerrymandering as an issue within their purview to decide. But in the three decades since, they have been unable to find a manageable standard for evaluating those claims. Summaries and documents from the major court decisions that led to this point are available here.