US Supreme Court divided over key employment dispute

New Gerrymandering Suit Challenges PA Maps In Federal Court

They never have been, but they soon could be.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case which many say will be the most important opinion of the term. Following the 2010 Census, the Wisconsin Legislature - controlled by Republicans - drew new district lines as required by the Constitution.

If district lines can be redrawn so that one political party always has a distinct advantage, no matter what the numbers and affiliations of overall voters in a state, the most fundamental element of a democracy - the vote - will lose much of its meaning.

Gerrymandering for racial reasons is illegal.

"End Gerrymandering Now!" reads the sign held by Joanne Kim of Washington, D.C. Protesters gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on October 3. In addition to Wisconsin, traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their national or state races.

Henry Flores, a St. Mary's University political scientist, said that in San Antonio, gerrymandering keeps voters who don't think their candidate has a chance to win because of the way districts are drawn away from the ballot box.

Gov. Gerry died two years later in 1814, presumably not as a outcome of the original political sin attributed to him. Unsurprisingly, these states seem to draw more competitive districts.

That includes IL, where Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's map machinations have given him permanent control of the General Assembly for almost two decades. "And if you're the intelligent man on the street and the" Supreme Court "issues a decision, and let's say the Democrats win, that person will say: 'Well, why did the Democrats win?'" In fact, a Supreme Court nominee was rejected in 1987 simply because he had previously used marijuana.

The consensus is that the votes of eight justices are predictable.

Does partisan gerrymandering violate the Constitution?

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In the Pennsylvania lawsuit, the attorneys for the voters point to a measure, "the efficiency gap", examined in the Wisconsin case. Certainly, the Republicans had not proclaimed they were drawing maps to favor their party, she added.

If they rule in favor of the plaintiffs, it could mean we would see new district maps for the 2018 election, depending on when we get a ruling.

After the extreme Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin, in the 2012 statewide elections Republicans won only 48.6 percent of the votes but won a huge majority of seats in the state assembly. In 2014, Republicans won 52 percent of the votes but 63 seats.

But in the mind of Chief Justice John Roberts, there are other concerns, which he detailed in explaining why the highest court ought not to get involved.

The issue of partisan gerrymandering is also before the U.S. Supreme Court right now and could have an influence on the Pennsylvania case.

One thing is for sure.

During its questioning, the Court wrestled with the question of how to determine when a redistricting plan is excessively partisan. But intervening could, as Mr Roberts fears, push the court directly into the political fray, risking what he described as "serious harm to the status and integrity" of his court.

That public message to Kennedy will, no doubt, be repeated when the justices convene in a private conference to discuss and decide the issue.

The key vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, gave little indication which way he'll side during the often lively session that saw a familiar partisan split.

Which way will he go? In Wisconsin, as in West Virginia, enough may be enough, at least for Justice Kennedy. But he needs - and is searching for - a better rationale for doing so than he has heard in the past.

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