La Oferta

October 3, 2022

Supreme Court rejects overturning electoral maps

Washington, Jun 18 (EFE).- The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected issuing rulings in two cases challenging partisan redistricting, a decision that aroused expectations regarding their repercussions for the November mid-term elections and postpones a ruling on when such gerrymandering goes so far as to become unconstitutional.

The high court came down on the side of keeping the existing electoral maps in Wisconsin and Maryland and rejected arguments of plaintiffs about a possible violation of their rights on the state level, thus opting not to set a precedent that could be utilized in future cases.

In Wisconsin in 2016, a federal court ruled that the state – controlled since 2011 by the Republicans – pushed through so partisan a redistricting plan that it violated clauses in the Constitution guaranteeing equal rights and freedom of expression, an argument that was rejected on Monday by the high court.

Specifically, Wisconsin Republican leaders met with each of their legislators and had them sign a confidentiality agreement before unveiling how they had manipulated their districts to ensure that they could win re-election.

The technique included reducing the weight of Democratic voters in Wisconsin, who are concentrated in a small number of urban zones, while Republicans are in the majority in the surrounding areas.

In 2011, and in the three elections since then, the conservatives managed to increase their representation in the state legislature, receiving a disproportionate number of seats compared to the number of votes they received.

The case had aroused expectations that the Supreme Court would rule that such blatant gerrymandering is unconstitutional, but the high court sidestepped such a decision, although it did not prohibit further legal challenges.

Meanwhile, the high court also rejected a challenge filed by a group of Republican voters in Maryland who were demanding the immediate suspension of a similar reformulation of the local electoral maps, in this case by the Democrats.

Although the high court regularly monitors the redrawing of electoral districts with an eye toward countering racially-based gerrymandering, it has never ruled that partisan political efforts have gone too far and has not developed or approved a test that other judges could use to determine if such efforts crossed a forbidden threshold.