Supreme Court will decide if partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional

If the Supreme Court rules partisan gerrymandering to be unconstitutional, it would revolutionize American politics

By Matthew Rozsa
June 19, 2017 3:16PM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Supreme Court is hearing a case that could, quite literally, transform the political landscape of this country.

On Monday the court decided that it will hear a case from Wisconsin over whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, according to the The Washington Post. A divided panel consisting of three judges ruled in 2016 that that state's Republican Party had violated its citizens' First Amendment and equal rights protections by pushing through a blatantly partisan redistricting plan.


Although the Supreme Court made it clear that they're not sure whether the case falls within their jurisdiction, they will at least be briefed on it and hear argumentation when their new term begins in October.

Wisconsin Republicans are characterizing the attempt to invalidate their redistricting as an effort to take control of creating congressional districts "away from the state legislators to whom the state constitution assigns that task, and hands it to federal judges and opportunistic plaintiffs seeking to accomplish in court what they failed to achieve at the ballot box."

Although the court has yet to rule on whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, it did offer a landmark opinion last month on the question of racially-based gerrymandering. In Cooper v. Harristhe Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that concentrating African-American voters in two congressional districts was unconstitutional. When writing her opinion with the majority in that decision, Justice Elena Kagan pointed out that "in places where race and party overlap so much they can be treated as proxies for one another."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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