Home / World / For the first time, the Supreme Court seems receptive to putting limits on partisan gerrymanders – Los Angeles Times

For the first time, the Supreme Court seems receptive to putting limits on partisan gerrymanders – Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court heard a powerful plea for reining in partisan gerrymandering, and a majority on Tuesday seemed to lean in favor of a potential landmark ruling that for the first time would limit politicians from entrenching their party in power by clever drawing of legislative or congressional district lines.

The court has never before struck down election maps simply because they lock in an advantage for one party. But now is the time, the justices were told.

“Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering. You are the only institution in the United States that can solve this problem,” Paul M. Smith, an attorney for the Wisconsin Democrats who brought the current case, told the justices. “And this is really the last opportunity” to act before the next round of redistricting following the census of 2020.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who likely holds the deciding vote on the issue, appeared to agree. He told a Wisconsin state lawyer that he thought extreme partisan gerrymanders could by challenged on 1st Amendment grounds because they deny voters in the disfavored party a right to have their views represented.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he did not need any “gobbledygook” to rule against the Wisconsin plan.

“If Party A wins a majority of votes, Party A controls the Legislature. That seems fair. And if Party A loses a majority of the votes, it still controls the legislature. That doesn’t seem fair,” he said.

Justice Elena Kagan noted that computers allow party officials to try out hundreds of maps to get the most advantage. It has “become extremely sophisticated” and can “entrench a party in power,” she said.

Smith used his closing argument to focus the justices on 2020 and beyond. If partisan gerrymandering is upheld, “you’re are going see people slicing and dicing a very polarized electorate to the point where one-party control will be guaranteed,” he said. “That’s going to become the norm.”

david.savage@latimes.com

Twitter: DavidGSavage

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UPDATES:

3:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on the argument and the case.

8:45 a.m.: This article was updated with details from the argument at the Supreme Court.

The article was originally published at 5:20 a.m.

Source: world

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