U.S. Supreme Court justices showed deep divisions Tuesday over a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin that could have far-reaching national implications. Liberal justices expressed openness to the idea that courts should intervene when lawmakers draw election maps that greatly favor their party. Conservatives were skeptical that judges could come up with a way to determine whether and when legislators had gone too far. In the middle of it all — as expected — was Justice Anthony Kennedy. Both sides see him as the one who will likely cast the deciding vote and they pitched their arguments to him.
A three-judge panel last year ruled 2-1 that maps for the Wisconsin Assembly were so heavily Republican that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters. Now, the Supreme Court must decide whether the lower court got the ruling right.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg questioned what would happen to the “precious right to vote” with maps like Wisconsin’s that lock in a majority for one party.
“If you can stack a legislature in this way, what incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote?” she asked. “Whether it’s a Democratic district or a Republican district, the result — using this map, the result is preordained in most of the districts.”