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.”
A 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.”