Washington: In a case that could reshape American Politics and redraw the Political District Boundaries, Justice Kennedy seems to have the swing vote revolutionizing the redistricting process and policing extreme partisan gerrymandering.
It was only the second day of hearing but the proceedings suggest Justice Kennedy may join his liberal group and vote in favor of policing the gerrymandering process and blow the whistle when the politicians have gone too far.
What is Gerrymandering?
After every 10 years, both state and federal district boundaries are redrawn to ensure roughly the same amount of population in each district. Gerrymandering is the distasteful practice where the ruling political party draws the boundaries such that it gives them an unfair and lopsided advantage during the elections.
This is done in two ways called Packing and Cracking: While Packing method shifts one group to another district so that they can win over the leftover districts, cracking breaks a single group and scatters them to various districts, reducing their voting power.
Gill v Whitford Case
The case which holds the power to reform American politics concerns a Wisconsin map drawn by the Republican legislature after the 2010 census. The redrawn map allowed the Republicans to win a massive 60 seats out of 99 State Assembly seats despite 48.6% winning of Republican candidates statewide.
What is Supreme Court’s Take on This Matter
A lower court had already issued a ruling for Wisconsin to draw up a new redistricting plan by the Fall. However, Supreme Court decision has held the ruling.
In the recent updates after Tuesday hearing, it all seems to come down to Judge Kennedy’s vote.
The other judges are divided equally among the Republicans and Democrats. While one group strictly states the Supreme Court shouldn’t get involved in political redistricting, the other group seems inclined towards liberals with strong criticism on the “efficiency gap” of votes.
Efficiency gap is a serious situation where the number of votes gets wasted due to extreme gerrymandering.
The conservative Judges including Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. agreed the process is distasteful and one from which both Democrats and Republicans have benefitted but stated the Court has to find a standard to declare when it gets out of hand.
After 2012 consecutive victories, Republicans seem to be enjoying an added gain from the extreme process that manipulates votes and alters the election results.
“That is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country.” stated Chief Justice John Roberts.
Nonetheless, the more liberal Judges argued whether the extreme partisan gerrymandering would undermine the democracy of U.S. itself.
“I would like to ask you what’s really behind all of this. The precious right to vote, if you can stack a legislature in this way, what incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote? Whether it’s a Democratic district or a Republican district, the result – using this map, the result is preordained in most of the districts.”
stated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Kennedy who seemed skeptical and questions Republican representative relentlessly seems to reason with the Democrats and may vote in favor of the Liberals.
Now, it’s a game of wait and watch. The final verdict of Gill v. Whitford will be given by Spring.