Will the Supreme Court fall into a political thicket — GEORGE WILL

Pennsylvania's oddly shaped 7th District is often cited as an extreme example of gerrymandering

Wisconsin's electoral map, drawn after the 2010 USA census, enabled Republicans to win a sizable majority of Wisconsin legislative seats despite losing the popular vote statewide to the Democrats. But now is the time, the justices were told.

Are Democratic and Republican politicians required by the U.S. Constitution to fight fair? Using advanced technology, lawmakers and experts drew the maps in such a way that guaranteed their party's continued control over the state government for years to come. Smith replied the cases are being brought in state after state on those grounds now, anyway. "Let's assume that it does", Kennedy said.

Unfortunately, the majority of justices on the state Supreme Court do not recognize this basic standard of justice. But because the resulting representation is increasingly distorted as a result of increased gerrymandering, the very existence of democracy is at stake. It would make it more likely that radio, television and online news programs would cover arguments, because they could include excerpts (yes, the dreaded "sound bites") from the justices' questions and comments.

The lawyer ducked an answer.

Conservatives, too, try to push Kennedy's First Amendment buttons. "Well, it's a little hard to say at this point", said the lawyer, Erin Murphy.

Nor is Wisconsin the only state where Republicans drew grossly contorted maps.

If your question is followed by a long pause, you'll have your answer.

"Yes, it would be unconstitutional", she relented. Plaintiffs Wisconsin voter Helen Harris (left) and William Whitford, a University of Wisconsin law professor, speak to reporters.

The case which holds the power to reform American politics concerns a Wisconsin map drawn by the Republican legislature after the 2010 census.

But for the gerrymandering, the efficiency gap study suggests, the partisan split here would be 10 Republicans and eight Democrats.

Although the judge didn't issue an order whether to stay the case or move forward, executive director for the League of Woman Voters of Pennsylvania Suzanne Almeida is satisfied with what they've accomplished so far.

As with many political problems, there is no simple solution. The court relied upon a three-part legal standard based on discriminatory intent, discriminatory effect and the justification for the law.

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, which created a Citizens Redistricting Commission for state Legislature seats. But gerrymandering for political reasons is a much-disdained, but entirely legal, tradition that goes back, well, to the early days of this republic. It is that Democrats still haven't accepted their loss in the 2016 election. The district boundaries created under this rule could be challenged only by presenting an alternative set of districts with more almost equal populations and shorter boundaries. And the lines of Pennsylvania's Seventh congressional district were also drawn in a way that favors Republicans.

The Justices over the summer took a series of separate, and temporary steps, dealing with current questions about enforcing the March 6 order while awaiting the Supreme Court's planned review in their new term of the legality of that order. "It essentially states that judges may decide for themselves whether to recuse in a case involving a donor or special-interest group who contributed to them!"

Chief Justice John Roberts characterized that novel claim as "sociological gobbledygook" while Justice Elena Kagan was swept away by its brilliance.

Justice Samuel A. Alito agreed. Roberts said if the court made a decision to set a standard for saying certain cases of gerrymandering are unconstitutional, it would invite a flood of lawsuits to the Supreme Court and weaken the court's reputation.

The four liberal justices were more certain that the court needed to act. Although he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and more often than not sides with conservatives, Kennedy has written several opinions expanding gay rights, and famously cast the tie-breaking vote in 2015 that affirmed a constitutional right for same sex couples to marry.

Another measure, the mean-median gap, compares the gap between the average Democratic vote share statewide with the vote share in the median district. That seems fair. And if Party A loses a majority of the votes, it still controls the legislature.

"They say they're going after Democrats". It has "become extremely sophisticated" and can "entrench a party in power", she said.

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