Justices to Hear Major Challenge to Partisan Gerrymandering

The map, Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote for the majority of a divided three-judge Federal District Court, “was designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.”

Paul Smith, a lawyer for the voters who challenged the map, said it was time for the Supreme Court to act.

“Partisan gerrymandering of this kind is worse now than at any time in recent memory,” Mr. Smith said. “The Supreme Court has the opportunity to ensure the maps in Wisconsin are drawn fairly, and further, has the opportunity to create ground rules that safeguard every citizen’s right to freely choose their representatives.”

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Brad Schimel, said he was “thrilled the Supreme Court has granted our request” to hear the appeal. “Our redistricting process was entirely lawful and constitutional,” he said.

The case is part of a larger debate over political gerrymandering. Some critics, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican and the former governor of California, say districts should be drawn by independent commissions rather than politicians. Prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and his attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., are pushing an effort to undo the redistricting gains Republicans made after the 2010 census when the next census is taken three years from now.

In Wisconsin, the redistricting took place after Republicans had gained complete control of the state government for the first time in more than 40 years. Lawmakers promptly drew a map for the State Assembly that helped Republicans convert very close statewide vote totals into lopsided legislative majorities.

In 2012, Republicans won 48.6 percent of the statewide vote for Assembly candidates but captured 60 of the Assembly’s 99 seats. In 2014, 52 percent of the vote yielded 63 seats.

In the past, some justices have said the court should stay out of such political…

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