Supreme Court Has Historic Chance to End Extreme Gerrymandering

The Supreme Court, which has decided to hear a landmark case on whether Wisconsin electoral maps were unconstitutionally drawn, could deliver a major blow to ultra-partisan redistricting.

June 21, 2017

Cross-posted from The American Prospect

Americans are fed up with gerrymandering. The most recent Harris poll shows that 74 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats, and 71 percent of independents believe that politicians shouldn’t have a hand in drawing lines that benefit them.  

Despite public opposition across the political spectrum, politicians have taken a stronger and stronger hand in line-drawing, resulting in gerrymandered maps that are more and more extreme. The problems continue to mount: A combination of “Big Data,” single-party control of state governments, and polarized politics have allowed paid political operatives to craft increasingly surgical gerrymanders far more potent than their precursors, locking in lopsided maps that are deeply unrepresentative of the electorate. 

The good news is that the Supreme Court has the chance to take a major bite out of extreme gerrymandering this fall when it hears Gill v. Whitford, an appeal of a landmark decision striking down a Wisconsin state assembly map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers drew the lower house map in secret, behind closed doors, with no input from Democrats. The result was a huge and disproportionate advantage for Republicans, at odds with Wisconsin’s status as a swing state. In 2012, Republicans won 60 of the 90 nine seats in the Wisconsin Assembly, despite winning only 48.6 percent of the two-party statewide vote; in 2014, they won 63 seats with only 52 percent of the statewide vote.

Read the full story on The American Prospect

(Photo: Flickr/Matt Wade)