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Court falling into political thicket — George Will

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OPINION: What gerrymandering is and why the Supreme Court might finally crack down on it

The nine justices heard an hour of arguments in the major voting rights case out of Wisconsin involving the practice known as partisan gerrymandering.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who led efforts to move California's redistricting process to a nonpartisan commission, drew a phalanx of photographers.

"We still have a shot on the current map, but if we have fair maps, we could see real progress", Post said.

Such a finding, however, would make partisan claims unique in the gerrymandering context.

The court battles are at the forefront of Democrats' bid to win back the almost 1,000 state legislative seats the party lost during Barack Obama's presidency - a blow that Obama himself is now attempting to help reverse by raising money for the redistricting group.

The metrics have identified "false positives 50 percent of the time", she said.

"Try as I might to say that that was a problem with effective vindication, I only got four votes", Clement said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg added that the case was not about minor technicalities but huge fundamental rights.

"This is pretty scientific at this point", Kagan said. But technological advances that make it possible to predict voter behavior with greater accuracy and precision allowed Republicans who controlled the redistricting process in most states after the 2010 Census an unprecedented advantage. The metrics on which his clients relied throughout the case, Smith said, are the same ones legislatures have used to carve up the maps in the first place.

Wisconsin Democrats say the 2011 Republican legislative map violated the First Amendment by punishing them for their political beliefs and violated the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause because it meant to dilute Democratic votes but not Republican ones.

So how do we draw better district maps? The case has special salience now, with Trump often raising questions about voter fraud and civil rights groups saying voter purges are a way to suppress voters. In one analysis, Democrats captured far fewer state Assembly seats even when they won roughly the same percentage of the statewide vote as Republicans.

This is not unique to any state, and Maryland has been accused of doing the same thing for the benefit of Democrats.

The court said it will not provide live audio of the highly anticipated argument, despite a request from several members of Congress to Chief Justice John Roberts. "The payoff for these groups is obvious: By shaping the decennial redistricting process, special interest groups can affect the outcome of every congressional race in a state for the next decade".

In other words, it's good strategy to for employers to discredit the NLRB by subtly implying the board's position is politically motivated rather than grounded in genuine legal interpretation. The Supreme Court has the opportunity to end this national scandal once and for all. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the alleged gerrymandering was not unconstitutional.

But the justices seemed split about whether they could find a "manageable" way of determining when politics plays too big a role in drawing legislative districts that are the building blocks of representative government. That is, unless Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks up.

Lawyers for Wisconsin Democratic voters tried to convince justices Tuesday that a measurable standard or test exists: the so-called efficiency gap.

Called the efficiency gap, the metric employed by the District Court in Wisconsin measures the number of wasted votes in each district, defined either as votes for a losing candidate or those cast for a victor in excess of the bare minimum needed to win the seat. The courts get the last say.

The Supreme Court has ruled that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional in many cases, but it has never done so for partisan gerrymandering.

"If it's the most partisan map they could draw, why isn't it enough to prove partisan gerrymandering" that violates rights, she asked.

The question before the court in Gill v. Whitford is whether Wisconsin Republican lawmakers went too far in 2011 when drawing the latest set of boundaries for state legislative districts. There also are the Republican-sponsored voter suppression laws created to impede people's ability to exercise the right to vote, and to do so in ways that fall most heavily on those presumed to be more likely to support the opposition party.

Creatively drawn political maps created to give one party an entrenched advantage could be in danger, if questioning by the Supreme Court's swing justice on Tuesday is any indication. The courts would be inundated, they suggested.

"One thing I don't do is come out in front of a bunch of cameras and predict justices' votes", Smith said. "This weaponization of demography", they argue, is leading legislators in safe seats to ignore phone calls and delete e-mails from constituents, to avoid public events, and to shut down hearings, all to minimize their exposure to voters from the opposing party. Alito said. "Are all of the techniques ... scientific?"

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