Voices & Choices

RIP partisan gerrymandering? State and federal courts deliver harsh blows

RIP partisan gerrymandering? State and federal courts deliver harsh blows

It has been another busy day on the legal front. In Pennsylvania, Republican legislative leaders asked the state Supreme Court to stay its order earlier this week that invalidated the state’s congressional map and demanded new districts be in place by mid-February.

In their filing, the state Senate president and House speaker argued that Monday’s historic decision “throws the 2018 Congressional election into chaos.” Any change in an election year, the GOP leaders suggest, “would confuse voters and candidates.” They also said that they believe the ruling “raises a profoundly important question under federal law” that ultimately belongs before the U.S. Supreme Court.

There have been several terrific pieces putting the decision in context:

In The Atlantic, David A. Graham wonders if “the tide has turned against partisan gerrymandering.”

Over at Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende – who once considered Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation potentially the “gerrymander of the decade” – cautions Democrats from getting too excited about potential pickups. He notes that the state Supreme Court decision calls for “compact” districts, not necessarily “fair” ones.

At the Allentown Morning Call, veteran political writer Bill White looks back in amazement at his long fight against partisan gerrymandering, and notes in disbelief that “we caught the squirrel.”

Meanwhile, at Salon, I take a broader look at the growing movement within state and federal courts to curb the curb the especially insidious gerrymanders this decade in states like Wisconsin, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Florida and North Carolina.

In other news,

* Common Cause asked the U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track its review of a three-judge panel’s order for new congressional maps in North Carolina. They hope that the case might be argued in the spring and decided by summer, allowing for the possibility of new maps being in place for November’s elections.

* The Supreme Court set March 28 as the day for oral arguments in Benisek v Lamone, the partisan gerrymandering case from Maryland involving a Democratic gerrymander of a state congressional district.



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