As made evident by recent events, while partisan gerrymandering does indeed seem like a trick primarily deployed by Republicans, that doesn’t mean that Democrats are not guilty of the same, even if it was on a much smaller scale.
In 2011, Maryland’s then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) redrew the district in question. Admittedly, he drew the maps with the intention of giving Democrats in the area the best chance of winning the region.
The Supreme Court is now set to start hearing a case this Wednesday, Benisek v. Lamone, that was brought by Republican voters in Maryland as a result of the gerrymander. The plaintiff’s say that the new maps violated the U.S. Constitution by:
“…Punishing voters for their past support of GOP candidates.”
The case out of Maryland is the only gerrymander case in the country with Democrats as the defendants. It is one of two gerrymander cases the Supreme Court will hear this year. The other case is out of Wisconsin. There are several different cases concerning partisan gerrymandering currently being heard in lower courts.
In the case out of Wisconsin, Gill V. Whitford was brought by the Democrats in the state. They say that Wisconsin’s GOP drawn state legislative map violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
MARYLAND AND WISCONSIN
These two cases are similar in that they will give the Supreme Court the chance to set limits on partisan gerrymandering for the first time in American history. There are also a few critical differences between the two cases, as well.
The Maryland case differs from the one out of Wisconsin, first off, because the case out of Maryland concerns only a small district while the one out of Wisconsin involves the entire state.
Secondly, the plaintiffs out of Maryland are attempting a new strategy never employed before: they are trying to prove that the new maps are in retaliation for the choices they made at the polls, instead of the usual gerrymander based on race and economic factors popular amongst Republicans.
Both of these cases are of massive importance.
Chief Justice John Roberts previously stated that he was worried that assessing partisan gerrymandering would “diminish the credibility of the court” because people would view any ruling as biased each time the court ruled in favor of one side over the other.
Experts say that the very fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear both cases is a sign that the highest court in the land is indeed making some significant moves where gerrymandering is concerned.
Michael Li, redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, said:
“Taking these two cases, it’s clear that the Supreme Court wants to say something about partisan gerrymandering. We don’t quite know what that is yet, but it wants to say something about it. If it wanted to walk away from the issue, it wouldn’t have had to take a second case to walk away from the issue.”
Feature Image via YouTube Video.