The Supreme Court announced Friday it will add a second case this term to determine whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, accepting a challenge from Maryland Republicans who say the state’s dominant Democrats drew a congressional district that violated their rights. The court already has heard a challenge from Wisconsin Democrats, who challenged a legislative redistricting drawn by the state’s Republican leaders. The cases could reshape the way American elections are conducted. The Supreme Court has never thrown out a state’s redistricting efforts due to partisan gerrymandering, and political parties consider drawing the map one of the perks of being in charge of state government.
It is unclear why the court thought it needed another case, and it had previously declined to immediately take up the Maryland case Benisek v. Lamone.
But the new challenge raises a question of specific interest to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is thought to be the pivotal vote on the issue.
Kennedy has wondered whether partisan gerrymandering retaliates against voters for their past support of a party’s candidates, which he has said could be a violation of the First Amendment.