The Supreme Court on Wednesday grappled with a case with the potential to reorder the country’s political landscape: How much gerrymandering is too much gerrymandering? Republicans who sued to overturn the congressional district lines that Maryland implemented after the 2010 census map found allies in the court’s four liberal justices, who expressed sympathy for their claims during oral arguments. What’s less clear is whether those four can recruit another justice to their side — the most likely targets would be Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Anthony Kennedy, typically the high court’s swing vote on election law cases. Both asked tough questions, but neither tipped his hand. At issue was Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, represented for 20 years by a Republican. After the 2010 census, Democrats in the state legislature and the then-Democratic governor redrew the district lines to move large numbers of Democratic voters into the district. Democratic Rep. John Delaney won the seat in 2012 and was reelected twice after.
A ruling against the map could fundamentally alter the redistricting process in the 37 states where the legislature draws the lines, limiting the parties’ ability to create maps to their advantage. But even if the court strikes down the map, the justices on Wednesday made clear they are still wrestling with whether the case could result in clear guidelines for partisan gerrymandering in the future.
Justice Elena Kagan said the court doesn’t need to dictate firm standards for redistricting to know that “this case is too much” — in other words, that Maryland’s map goes too far in partisan gerrymandering. She pointed to statements from then-Gov. Martin O’Malley and other Democrats that the sole purpose in drawing the districts the way they were configured was to increase the party’s advantage in the congressional delegation.
Full Article: Justices cast doubt on partisan redistricting – POLITICO.