Anthony Kennedy Doesn't Tip Hand In Landmark Redistricting Case


Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court's "swing" vote in this case, asked a number of critical questions of the lawyers defending the gerrymandered maps and literally no questions of Smith.

Gerrymandering is defined as the process of drawing legislative boundaries in a way created to magnify the impact of one party's voters while diminishing its opponent's - is as old as representative democracy.

He pressed the state's lawyers about whether it would be unconstitutional for the state to simply declare that it was going to favor one party over another. The court agreed, but the liberal justices went out of their way to note that they would have denied the application for a stay.

In previous cases when claims on partisan redistricting were made, the Supreme Court ruled that this is a political question for politicians to sort out, not one for the courts. Of the many amicus briefs in the Gill case, two of the most surprising were submitted by bipartisan groups of state legislators and members of Congress. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts called those metrics "sociological gobbledygook".

Finally, provided a majority can agree on the justiciability question, the Court must resolve what standard lower courts are to employ in trying political redistricting cases.

Smith responded by arguing that gerrymandering posed an equally risky threat to democracy because it would erode confidence in the political system and discourage people from voting.

On the steps of the Supreme Court today, lawyer Michael Rubin, who's been active in these cases, stressed the importance of this case. The courts have always been wary, justifiably, of too much involvement in purely political questions.

Justice Neil Gorsuch expressed skepticism that such standards could be formulated, and seemed to suggest that the standards Smith was proposing effectively ask courts to make it up as they go along.

A landmark decision is expected, and the U.S. Supreme Court is known to issue major decisions in the final days of a given term.

"What becomes of the precious right to vote" when that happens, asked Ginsburg. In short, they are arguing that Republicans used partisan gerrymandering to their benefit. Last year, a three-judge district court concluded that state Republicans had so egregiously contorted the state's political map that it required a court-ordered remedy. "But the court's conservatives seemed skeptical over whether such a hearing should be triggered automatically after six months, as a lower court had ruled". Not only is partisan gerrymandering perfectly legal to some degree - making it hard to judge when it becomes unlawful - but the justices are also traditionally reluctant to get too involved in politics, particularly local politics.

In a case that could reshape American politics, the Supreme Court appeared split Tuesday on whether Wisconsin Republicans gave themselves an unfair advantage when they drew political maps to last a decade.

Anticipating workers will lose the Murphy Oil case, four state legislatures are looking at giving workers another route to justice, Harvard law professor Melissa Greenberg reported in Harvard's On Labor blog: Allowing workers to sue individually, as if they are private attorneys general, to enforce the law where agencies can't or won't. The plaintiffs in the case are average Wisconsin citizens who believe deeply in democracy and believe that the right to vote is a right worth fighting for.

Legislative maps in IN and across the country could be affected by a Wisconsin case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is calling on the Supreme Court to "terminate" gerrymandering, the process of drawing congressional districts in such a way as to give one party an electoral advantage. But in the court's most recent look at the issue in 2004, he did not find a workable test for deciding what is excessive. In 1981, a California Democrat, having redrawn the boundaries of a congressional district, observed that his effort "curls in and out like a snake".

The plans, developed in 2011 by Republican leaders who controlled the legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, R, were effective. In the following election, in 2012, Democrats won a majority of votes but Republicans captured sixty out of ninety-nine seats in the State Assembly. "In 2014, the Republican Party received 52% of the two-party statewide vote share and won 63 assembly seats".