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Bipartisan Support for Whitford

Partisan gerrymandering sometimes gets cast as a power struggle between Democrats and Republicans. But something more fundamental is at stake.

  • Brennan Center for Justice
Published: August 14, 2017

Partisan gerry­man­der­ing some­times gets cast as a battle between Demo­crats and Repub­lic­ans over who has power­—and litig­a­tion about partisan gerry­man­der­ing as noth­ing more than sour grapes by the party that lost the polit­ical fight. But as a series of power­ful briefs by Repub­lican and Demo­cratic lawmakers in Gill v. Whit­ford make clear, some­thing more funda­mental is at stake.
As Sen. John McCain told the Supreme Court in a brief, “Partisan gerry­man­der­ing has become a tool for power­ful interests to distort the demo­cratic process.”

Lead­ing Repub­lic­ans includ­ing John Kasich, Bob Dole, Dick Lugar, and Arnold Schwar­zeneg­ger echoed this in a separ­ate brief, telling the high court that, “If this Court does not stop partisan gerry­manders, partisan politi­cians will be emboldened to enact ever more egre­gious gerry­manders . . . That result would be devast­at­ing for our demo­cracy.”
bipar­tisan group of 36 current and former members of Congress, includ­ing Olympia Snowe, Brian Fitzpatrick, and David Jolly, have filed a brief warn­ing the Court that “extreme partisan gerry­man­der­ing under­mines the healthy func­tion­ing of the House,” by, among other things, “devalu[ing] prag­matic prob­lem-solv­ing and constitu­ent-first repres­ent­a­tion.”

And that’s not all: Over 65 current and former state legis­lat­ors from both sides of the aisle have decried partisan gerry­man­der­ing as “a substan­tial cause of the dysfunc­tion of contem­por­ary polit­ics,” a perni­cious influ­ence that has “soun­ded the death-knell of bipar­tis­an­ship.”