After every U.S. census, states redraw the boundaries of their congressional districts to account for changes in population. This sets off a decennial exercise in partisan gamesmanship, with Democrats and Republicans seeking to alter the lines to their advantage. Lawsuits inevitably follow. Since new maps were drawn before the 2012 election, courts have weighed in on them in 22 states. Five years after the census and less than a year away from the 2016 election, five states are still waiting on judges to determine the fate of their districts. Their decisions could help Democrats chip away at the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. One of the most acrimonious redistricting fights in the nation came to an end on Wednesday, when Florida’s Supreme Court replaced the Republican-drawn congressional map with one that shakes up all but three districts in the state.
The Court said Republican lawmakers violated a 2010 constitutional amendment, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that prohibited legislators from drawing districts to favor incumbents or to benefit one party over another. Under the court-ordered map, three districts currently held by Republicans will now be more evenly split politically or lean Democratic — and one Democratic seat will lean Republican.
Similar redistricting battles took place in states around the country. New districts had to be drawn in 43 states for the 2012 election (the other seven have only one statewide congressional district). Of those 43, lawsuits have been filed in 42, with courts reviewing the district maps in 22. In three states, courts declared the new maps unconstitutional and ordered them redrawn; in nine other states, judges have stepped in to settle district boundaries when lawmakers were unable to agree.
Full Article: Courts Are Shaking Up House Elections in 2016.