Breaking ranks with many of their fellow Republicans, a group of prominent politicians filed briefs on Tuesday urging the Supreme Court to rule that extreme political gerrymandering — the drawing of voting districts to give lopsided advantages to the party in power — violates the Constitution. The briefs were signed by Republicans including Senator John McCain of Arizona; Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader from Kansas and the party’s 1996 presidential nominee; the former senators John C. Danforth of Missouri, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California. “Partisan gerrymandering has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process,” reads a brief filed by Mr. McCain and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case, Gill v. Whitford, No. 16-1161, on Oct. 3.
The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee all filed briefs on the other side. They urged the Supreme Court to reject a challenge to State Assembly districts in Wisconsin that, by some measures, gave Republicans outsize political power unjustified by the overall vote.
Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who served as United States solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, and who is among the lawyers representing Republican politicians urging the Supreme Court to reject extreme political gerrymanders, said it was important to take the long view and to act on principle. “It’s not a partisan issue,” he said. “We are working for our republic, and not for Republicans.”