The betting odds are that the case filed by Stephen M. Shapiro, a former federal employee from Bethesda, won’t make a dent in Maryland’s chronic gerrymandering — the manipulation of district lines in order to benefit the majority party. All past attempts to get the judiciary to intervene have failed. But you have to give Shapiro, who has pursued the issue for a quarter-century, credit for trying. His determination has gotten him not just a day in court but a day (well, actually more like an hour) in the U.S. Supreme Court this fall. The court is scheduled to hear a case resulting from Shapiro’s contention that the maps drawn by this state’s Democrats after the 2010 census violate First Amendment rights to free speech.
Actually, the matter before the high court is a technical offshoot: an argument that a lower-court judge should not have dismissed Shapiro’s case without letting it be heard by a three-judge panel. But nothing would stop the high court from dealing with the meat of the case. And, as The Baltimore Sun reported, Justice Anthony Kennedy — the court’s swing vote for years — wrote in an opinion that the First Amendment could be used in such complaints if a plaintiff could make an argument voters were receiving “disfavored treatment” because of their political views.
Anyone else think GOP voters in Anne Arundel County — partitioned into four congressional districts represented by out-of-county Democrats — are being “disfavored”? The more fronts open up in the war against gerrymandering, the better. Shapiro, who is not a lawyer and is now getting pro bono representation, deserves credit for pressing on with his case when no one else believed in it.