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Briefs Examining Partisan Gerrymandering from a Historical Perspective

To help court-watchers sort through more than one thousand pages of amicus briefs in Gill v. Whitford, the Brennan Center has prepared an annotated guide breaking down each brief’s most important arguments.

September 19, 2017

Brief of Historians in Support of Appellees

Summary: This brief, filed by a panel of 15 leading historians including Jack Rakove of Stanford University and Alexander Keyssar of Harvard University, establishes that partisan gerrymandering has been denounced throughout American history as an unconstitutional abuse of power. As the historians explain, the practice of drawing maps to entrench one political party runs counter to the vision of “actual representation” that was fundamental to the Framers’ vision for American constitutional democracy. The brief also distinguishes contemporary “extreme gerrymanders,” with their threat of persistent entrenchment, from less severe or effective historical gerrymandering practices. The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is counsel for this brief.

Brief of Tennessee State Senators in Support of Appellants

Summary: This brief, filed by members of the Tennessee State Senate, argues that partisan gerrymandering has long been an engrained element of American electoral politics and has resisted judicial attempts to limit it because no manageable standard for doing so exists. The law firms of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh and Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin are co-counsel for this brief.