WASHINGTON (Oct. 04, 2017)—The Supreme Court of the United States took on the issue of partisan gerrymandering Tuesday in a potentially landmark case that could set limits on the congressional districting process.
The case, Gill v. Whitford, originated in Wisconsin when Democrats challenged a Republican-drawn update to the state's congressional district maps. The district and appeals courts struck down the revisions as overly partisan, on the grounds that the new map diluted the votes of Democrats in certain districts.
Supporters of constitutional limits on gerrymandering argue that partisan redistricting eliminates electoral competition and safeguards incumbents from challengers.
U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, who has led a bipartisan effort to create an independent redistricting commission in his state, said he is optimistic that the court will rule in favor of constitutional limits on partisan redistricting.
"This is the critical case," he said.
A similar case to Gill is pending in Maryland. After a federal district court struck down a challenge to the Democrat-favored Congressional district map, a three-judge panel in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled 2-1 in favor of keeping the current map.
An attorney representing Republicans in Maryland said he would appeal that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Washington Post reported in August.
Takoma Park, Maryland, resident Susan Ogden, who attended the 10 a.m. "Fair Maps" rally outside the Supreme Court, said gerrymandering skews the democratic process in favor of the lawmakers rather than their constituents.
"In Maryland, it's all safe Democratic," she said. "Wouldn't it be better if we had a really fair system where Republicans and Democrats could vote for the representatives who reflect their views?"
A ruling in the Gill case is expected by the end of June.