Anthony Kennedy Doesn't Tip Hand In Landmark Redistricting Case

Kennedy is key to Supreme Court outcome on partisan maps

Supreme Court members Anthony Kennedy and Neil Gorsuch

In oral arguments set for Tuesday morning, the plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford will argue that Wisconsin Republicans violated the constitutional rights of that state's Democratic voters in 2011 when they adopted new political boundaries that assured the GOP control of the state legislature even when Democratic legislative candidates won the most votes.

The conservative justices were less vocal but expressed skepticism about whether the court should be setting firm deadlines for hearings in immigration cases. The four liberal-leaning justices will likely vote to enforce the lower court's decision against the Wisconsin plan, while the four conservative-leaning justices will likely vote to reverse the lower court's decision.

In 2004, the Supreme Court declined to strike down Pennsylvania's congressional map as unconstitutional after challengers said it went too far to benefit Republicans. "Suppose the Court...decided that this is a First Amendment issue?" Floridians must continue to hold their legislators accountable for delivering district maps without the need for court orders. Chief Justice John Roberts started the questioning by suggesting that if the Court rules in favor of the challengers, every legislative map drawn for redistricting will face a legal challenge that will eventually wind up before the Supreme Court.

The districts in question now have Republican representatives that serve in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Liberal justices voiced sympathy for the Democratic voters who challenged the Republican-drawn legislative map in Wisconsin as a violation of their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the alleged gerrymandering was not unconstitutional. The Maryland case alleges that the state's Democratic leadership drew congressional maps that put Republicans at a disadvantage.

And now, 30 years later, the electoral map drawing process in America is even more shameful as craven political operatives use computers to generate partisan political results.

Gorsuch and Alito, who at one point conceded gerrymandering was "distasteful", pressed Smith on how exactly the court could establish a test to determine whether a redistricting plan was unconstitutional. Gerrymandering is usually accomplished by concentrating voters who tend to favor a particular party in a small number of districts to reduce their statewide voting power - called packing - while scattering others in districts in numbers too small to be a majority - called cracking.

Both sides argued their case to the court on Tuesday.

That decision said a map is an unconstitutional gerrymander if the ruling party's map is meant to place a severe burden on voters of the opposing party; has that effect; and can not be justified on other legitimate grounds.

If the map-challengers establish that they have standing, they must then demonstrate that the Court could establish reliable measures for identifying partisan gerrymanders. The Court will address this question again.

"Republicans have worked for years to rig the system with partisan gerrymandering and restrictive voting laws created to keep African Americans, Latinos, and young people away on Election Day", said Tom Perez, the DNC chairman.

The exact legal outcome in the commonwealth would depend on how the justices tailor their decision, which could come as early as January or February. Democrats have come under fire as well for partisan maps in states where they control the legislature, like Maryland and MA.

On Tuesday, the Eric Holder-led National Democratic Redistricting Committee, launched in the wake of 2016's election, is expected to file a lawsuit on behalf of residents of Georgia over legislative maps that lawmakers there redrew in 2015 to shore up the Atlanta suburbs for Republican incumbents. "What it protects is their right in the workplace to decide they want to get to the courthouse, but once they get to the courthouse..." he said before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cut him off.

"Cameras change the institution and education is not unimportant, but it's not the answer for ensuring that there is actually a discussion going on that can be looked at by others in writing", said Justice Sotomayor, speaking at Democracy at a Crossroads, a civics education conference.

While one can not predict the outcome or its timing with any certainty, a decision is expected in early 2018.

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