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Supreme Court battle over political districts unlikely to affect California's system

26 Juin 2017

Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

"The Supreme Court has the opportunity to ensure the maps in Wisconsin are drawn fairly, and further, has the opportunity to create ground rules that safeguard every citizen's right to freely choose their representatives", added Smith, who will argue the case before the justices.

The Supreme Court made a decision to hear a case that will determine if gerrymandering for partisan benefit is constitutional.

The court accepted Gill v. Whitford, a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges previous year ruled that the state's Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a redistricting plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution's First Amendment and equal rights protections.

Longtime Democratic Party activist Bill Whitford brought the case Gill v. Whitford, which challenges Wisconsin's 2011 State Assembly map as unconstitutional. "And it's a good thing, we believe that they will ultimately hold up the law, and we will be able to continue to move forward", Walker said.

The Supreme Court has taken a look at a number of gerrymandering cases over the years. And ultimately, it will be Justice Kennedy who determines if the Wisconsin case brings a satisfactory way of having the courts intercede in this most political of activities in the United States.

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The issue has splintered the Supreme Court in the past, most recently in a 2004 ruling that left Justice Anthony Kennedy as the court's pivot point.

The Supreme Court has never struck down a legislative map as being too partisan, or told challengers what standard they have to meet to win a lawsuit. In 2014, the party garnered 52 percent of the vote and 63 Assembly seats.

The measure, call the efficiency gap, shows how cracking (breaking up blocs of Democratic voters) and packing (concentrating Democrats within certain districts) results in wasted votes - excess votes for winners in safe districts and perpetually inadequate votes for the losers. Their test, known as the "efficiency gap", focuses on how frequently votes in a particular district are effectively wasted, either because they go to a candidate who loses or because they provide the victor with more support than was necessary.

Finally, there is no question that greatly altering district boundaries makes elections more competitive, and since Republicans have been the primary benefactors of the current wave of partisan gerrymanders, clearly Democrats will disproportionally benefit from redistricting of this kind.

Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Wisconsin state Senate Democratic minority leader: "Regardless of the outcome in this case, we must remain committed to promoting election fairness, protecting voter rights and preserving our shared democratic values". As I have said before, our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional, and the district court should be reversed. In 2012, Republicans received about 49 percent of the vote but won 60 of the 99 state Assembly seats.

In another free speech case, the court struck down a North Carolina law that barred convicted sex offenders from using Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites that are available to children.

Supreme Court battle over political districts unlikely to affect California's system