Not surprising, we anticipated and hoped for this a few months ago, but the Court accepting this challenge to partisan gerrymandering is a big, big deal. With one decision the Supreme Court could make our entire political system more fair, honest, nonpartisan and issues based in one decision.
The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled last year (sic) that the state’s Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment and equal rights protections.
Would any of the five conservatives on the court take away the tool that Republicans have used to force their agenda on states whose citizens do not actually vote in the majority for their policies? While it’s exciting that they’ll hear the case, I am not going to hold my breath on it because it’s sheer optimism to think they will.
In their decision to hear the case they also decided, on 5-4 partisan lines, to stay the lower court ruling forcing WI to redraw lines now, effectively continuing the potentially unconstitutional Republican advantage. They may believe there’s plenty of time to fix it before the 2018 election, so no need to force the state to go through the effort before a decision later in 2017. Or they may be telegraghing that they’re not going to be the people to say that there is a constitutional issue in diluting other people’s votes and take away the GOP’s advantage – which is at its heart a Machiavellian lack of conscience about unfairness.
Essentially what the GOP did in WI and other states is that when they narrowly won an advantage in the state legislature in the tea party wave of 2010 they redrew districts to secure and expand their advantage to an almost laughably partisan level. In WI, MI, PA, OH and NC more people consistently vote Democratic, but each state is overwhelmingly run by and represented in D.C. by Republicans.
In the election after adoption of the new maps, Republicans got just 48.6 percent of the statewide vote, but captured a 60-to-39 seat advantage in the State Assembly.
Fairness is the issue, but the constitution, sadly, doesn’t guaranty fairness, just equal protection and freedom of speech. Funny how the Court throughout its history, despite being populated by the most virtuous of us, consistently finds a way to descend into the gutter of common politics, and defend that as a virtue.
But an optimist can dream, right?