The U.S. Supreme Court, in a Wisconsin case, is poised to make a historic ruling that could make extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional. Texas, whose maps historically are challenged because of racial gerrymandering, should nonetheless pay close attention. For all intents and purposes, racial and political gerrymandering are the same things in this state. Questions asked during a hearing Tuesday in the case offer a glimmer of hope that the days of gerrymandering might be coming to an end — or at least rendered more difficult to achieve. One question the court grappled with during the hearing: When does partisan gerrymandering — drawing legislative districts to advantage a certain political party — serve a valuable societal purpose? And the answer: Never.
Legislators who get to pick their voters serve only what they value most — re-election and keeping the reins of power in the hands of their party.
Another question asked was whether there can be a standard courts can use to judge redistricting to have been a case of extreme political gerrymandering?
And the answer to that is that any partisan gerrymandering is extreme. Moreover, an acceptable standard is remarkably simple to reach to determine when this has occurred.