The Supreme court decided to hear the Wisconsin case of Gill v. Whitford next term. The case pertains to claims that in 2011 the Republican party of Wisconsin developed and used a model to predict voter outcome. Included in the model were spreadsheets and labeling of certain proposed new districts as “assertive” or “aggressive”, detailing how likely that district was to elect Republicans. Republicans in 2012 ended up with 60% of the assembly seats in the state despite only getting 49% of the total vote for assembly seats.
The case was filed with the Western District Court of Wisconsin on July 8, 2015. The plaintiff is arguing that the new maps are unconstitutional on the grounds of the 14th amendment guarantee of equal protection. By reshaping the districts to support Republicans, Democrat voters were discriminated against. On November 1, 2016 the lower court panel voted 2-1, that the maps were unconstitutional and that they would have to be redrawn before the 2018 election cycle.
The defendant appealed the decision and as a result the state of Wisconsin asked the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court decision so the legislature could continue preparing districts for the 2018 cycle. Instead of overturning the decision the justices voted unanimously to hear the case but voted 5-4, along partisan lines, to issue a stay against the lower court decision to redistrict before 2018. This is the first time since 2004 the court has decided to hear a gerrymandering case.
Why is this even an issue the Supreme Court has to discuss? Gerrymandering is cheating, it’s a tactic used by both major parties to rig elections. How are voters supposed to be represented if the game is fixed? This is especially troublesome for third party voters that already are playing against a severely stacked deck. The decision should be an easy one to reach, gerrymandering gives unfair advantages to the party in charge and ultimately causes misrepresentation of the voters, therefore it is unconstitutional. Will that be the outcome? I seriously doubt it.