Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map

The Supreme Court split 5-4 on Monday in ordering that work to be halted while the high court considers the Wisconsin case.

The justices issued their order Monday about 90 minutes after they agreed to hear the Wisconsin case in the fall, the first case on partisan politics and redistricting in more than a decade. The court is now considering this case, Gill v. Whitford, on appeal.

The high court case could affect pending legal disputes over Republican-drawn maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and a Democratic-drawn map in Maryland.

"More than 60 percent of the state legislative seats in the general election were uncontested, [with] no Republican running against those Democrats because they were such Democratic districts", Potter said. "In 2014 and 2016, Republicans extended their advantage to 63 and 64 seats, respectively, even though the statewide vote remained almost tied". It said redistricting efforts were unlawful partisan gerrymandering when they sought to entrench the party in power, and had no other legitimate justification.

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will consider if politically gerrymandered electoral maps in Wisconsin are unconstitutional, which could have a major impact on US elections.

The court has said that too much partisanship in map drawing is illegal, but it has never said how much is too much.

Supporters of Wisconsin's map say that "the election results it produced are similar to those under earlier court-drawn maps", as The Associated Press reports. 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. The court's ruling could have broad implications for redistricting in states across the nation come 2020.

Registered Democratic voters in Wisconsin mounted a lawsuit alleging that GOP lawmakers had redrawn their districts to disproportionately favor Republican candidates. It said the constitution has been violated if the new districts are "intended to to place a severe impediment on the effectiveness of the votes of individual citizens on the basis of their political affiliation", "has that effect" and "cannot be justified on other, legitimate legislative grounds".

"Gerrymandering has become so aggressive, extreme, and effective that there is an urgent need for the Supreme Court to finally step in and set boundaries", said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.

Last year, a divided three-judge Federal District Court panel ruled that Republicans had gone too far. Critics of the practice suggest that independent commissions should be used to redraw district lines, not politicans who implicitly have a vested interest in the shape of certain districts.

"Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade", read the report. Political parties often use gerrymandering to manipulate district borders to increase their party's share of the vote.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat and chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House, tweeted that the caucus would keep an eye on the Wisconsin case closely as the Texas trial begins next month.

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