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Anti-Gerrymandering Protesters Gather at Supreme Court

Anti-Gerrymandering Protesters Gather at Supreme Court

All that was in the background - though unmentioned in the court - as the justices tackled the Wisconsin case, where the plaintiffs, Democratic voters, argued the districts are so skewed they are effectively denied their voting rights and their First Amendment freedom of association.

Depending on the remedy that the court requires, the reverberations could be significant for redistricting after the 2020 census.

The court said this as it referred to a Constitution Bench the question about the extent of restraint a person holding a public office, including a Minister, can be put under while commenting on sub judice matters or those under investigation by state agencies. Earlier in the hearing he asked Wisconsin's lawyers a series of critical questions, which might indicate that he favours the plaintiffs. In most states, the legislature controls redistricting. While other judges worry about the competence of their peers to make tough calls, Kennedy has a reverence for the work of jurists, and he trusts them to get things right most of the time.

The nine justices will consider the lawfulness of partisan gerrymandering, the long-standing practice of manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts to benefit one party, and whether in this case Republicans meant to hobble Democrats.

It had been diminishing over time and left for good on December 12, 2000, when the court, in a 5-4 decision, halted the vote-counting in Florida and handed a disputed overtime presidential election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

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The writer, a professor at Harvard Law School, is one of the lawyers on an amicus brief in the case on behalf of Republican state officials. But the majority of the most obnoxiously gerrymandered states - including Wisconsin, where the case of Gill v. Whitford originated - are controlled by Republicans. No longer would state legislative members represent specific districts so much as they would be assigned to represent the collective interest of "Democrats" or "Republicans" in proportions determined by a court. According to legend, when a political opponent described the shape of one of the districts as resembling the shape of a salamander, a colleague replied, "No, it looks more like a Gerrymander". Sotomayor asked how political gerrymander "helps our system of government". And legal advocates have repeatedly challenged the practice of partisan gerrymandering in court. The Brennan Center for Justice found that Republicans have a "durable majority" of 16-17 seats in the House, mostly in seven states where Republicans drew the district lines.

A lower court ruled in favor of the challengers after conducting a trial in 2016.

Republicans like Malone are on the short end of the gerrymandering stick in Maryland.

Which is better for Democrats? At the same time, the Justices recognized that it was hard to craft a solution to the problem; Chief Justice John Roberts was especially wary of asking the courts to use "sociological gobbledygook" to weigh the propriety of district lines. After roughly an hour of oral argument this morning, the justices seemed to agree that partisan gerrymandering is, as Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged, "distasteful".

The court was hearing a plea filed by a man, whose wife and daughter were allegedly gangraped in July previous year on a highway near Bulandshahr, seeking transfer of the case to Delhi and lodging of an FIR against former Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan for his controversial statement that the gangrape case was a "political conspiracy". "In the context of partisan gerrymandering, that means that First Amendment concerns arise where an apportionment has the goal and effect of burdening a group of voters' representational rights".

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