Since the nation's founding, politicians have intentionally manipulated the boundaries of election districts to stifle their political opponents’ power and keep themselves in office. And for just as long, these manipulations have met with criticism for being anti-democratic and unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the harms of partisan gerrymandering, but has long struggled to outlaw it. Without strong laws against gerrymandering, the problem has gotten worse. This decade, politicians equipped with reams of voter data, fast computers, and precision redistricting tools have created a new breed of extreme partisan gerrymanders that have locked in majorities—or even supermajorities—for one party, regardless of how voters actually vote. These new, extreme maps have given rise to legislatures that do not represent the diverse interests of voters and do not respond to changing opinion.
Fortunately, the tide is shifting. After more than a decade of silence on partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court has emerged to provide potential roadmaps to voters looking for fairer maps. In the coming months, voters challenging maps across the country will attempt to follow those roadmaps to a strong, clear ruling from the Court that will finally put some much-needed limits on partisan redistricting abuses.
An overview of academic literature concerning partisan gerrymandering and related topics.
Pleadings in key redistricting cases before the courts in Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Since 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized partisan gerrymandering as an issue within the courts' purview to decide. But in the three decades since, the Justices have been unable to agree on a manageable standard for evaluating those claims. Summaries and documents from the major Supreme Court decisions that led to this point are available here.
Political leaders across the aisle speak out about gerrymandering.