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. This fall, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a case challenging the manipulation of Wisconsin's state assembly map as a partisan gerrymander. And other partisan gerrymandering cases are pending before trial courts challenging maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, among others. With these cases, perhaps the worst excesses soon could be checked.

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, Georgia, 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 agree on a manageable standard for evaluating those claims. Summaries and documents from the major court decisions that led to this point are available here.