Supreme Court to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted.

The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.

But the Supreme Court has long been tolerant of partisan gerrymandering — and some justices have thought that the court shouldn’t even be involved. A finding otherwise would have a revolutionary impact on the reapportionment that will take place after the 2020 election and could come at the expense of Republicans, who control the process in the majority of states.

The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last 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.

The issue will be briefed and argued during the Supreme Court term that begins in October.

The justices gave themselves a bit of an out, saying they will further consider their jurisdiction over the case when it is heard on its merits.

And the justices gave an indication of how divisive the issue might be. After granting the case, the court voted 5 to 4 to stay the lower court’s decision, which had required that new state legislative districts be drawn this fall. Wisconsin had argued that would create unnecessary work should the Supreme Court ultimately overturn the lower court’s decision and allow the Republican plan to stand.

Read more at The Washington Post.