The US supreme court on Monday agreed to decide whether electoral maps drawn deliberately to favor a particular political party are acceptable under the constitution, in a case that could have huge consequences for future US elections. The justices will take up Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling that said state Republican lawmakers had violated the constitution when they created legislative districts with the aim of hobbling Democrats. The case will be one of the biggest heard in the supreme court term that begins in October. Last November, federal judges in Madison ruled 2-1 that the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature’s redrawing of legislative districts in 2011 amounted to “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander”, a manipulation of electoral boundaries for unfair political advantage. The judges said the redrawing violated constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law and free speech by undercutting the ability of Democratic voters to turn their votes into seats in the Wisconsin state legislature.
The court ordered a redrawing of political districts be in place by 1 November 2017, in time for the next state election in Wisconsin, in 2018.
Despite opposition from the four liberal justices, the nine-member high court granted Wisconsin’s request to put on hold the lower court’s order requiring the state to redraw its electoral maps by 1 November.
… The supreme court has been willing to invalidate state electoral maps on the grounds of racial discrimination, as it did on 22 May, when it found Republican legislators in North Carolina had drawn two districts to diminish the statewide political clout of black voters. But the justices have not thrown out state electoral maps drawn simply to give one party an advantage over another.