By Sam Levine, HuffPpost, 10/3/17
The court has never said whether lawmakers can go too far in drawing electoral boundaries to benefit their political party.
Wendy Sue Johnson has lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for nearly five decades ? and for most of her life, she remembers competitive elections as voters from surrounding rural areas packed in with voters from the town.
Johnson, a 48-year-old lawyer and former teacher who identifies as a Democrat, used to bring in the chairs of both the Republican and Democratic parties to talk to her students.
“It would flip back and forth, so people had to work hard during elections and convince the voters that they were qualified and had the right policies and ideas,” Johnson told HuffPost.
In 2011, that changed.
Following the 2010 census, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers drew new maps for the state Assembly that moved Johnson from her old Assembly district into a new one packed with Democratic voters. It was an attempt to diminish the power of Democratic votes like Johnson’s by concentrating them in a single district and consolidating Republican electoral power elsewhere. The boundary separating Johnson’s new Assembly district from her old one, which is currently represented by a Republican, runs right outside the side door to her house.
Now Johnson is one of 12 Wisconsin voters who are now plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford, a landmark case the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday that could put an end to that kind of partisan redistricting….
keep reading at HuffPpost
By Sam Levine, Huffington Post, 7/22/17
The upcoming case could dramatically reshape how electoral districts are drawn.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says a case dealing with how far political parties can go to draw election districts to their benefit might be the “most important” the court will hear next term.
Ginsburg made the comments at a Duke Law School event Friday while referring to Gill v. Whitford, a case in which plaintiffs are challenging Wisconsin’s 2011 map for the state assembly as unconstitutional. A panel of three federal judges ruled 2-1 last year the Republican-drawn map violated the constitution. After the redistricting, Republicans won 48.6 percent of the vote in 2012, but triumphed in 60 of the state’s 99 electoral districts.
The case is significant because the Supreme Court has never set a standard for when a partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional, though it has written critically of them in the past. If the Supreme Court were to uphold the ruling of the lower court, it could dramatically limit the ability of parties to redraw electoral maps to their advantage in the next round of redistricting following the 2020 Census….
keep reading at Huffington Post
Guest column by G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young, Daily Local News, 7/16/17
Today it’s everywhere or often seems so.
Trump mania pervades news coverage while heated and often testy debates about health care, immigration, criminal justice and trade policy increasingly dominate the national conversation.
Turn on any news program and try to escape it. We are dominated by a growing national obsession with politics.
Nor are state governments immune to our growing national preoccupation with politics and political problems. As states struggle to find new revenues and balance annual budgets, they increasingly move into policy arenas like immigration and climate change previously monopolized by the federal government.
But one place political questions do not prevail – indeed according to legal doctrine cannot prevail – is when the courts consider the problem of reapportionment, the decennial process in which states draw the congressional and state legislative districts to conform to population shifts occurring over the past decade.
Decennial reapportionment has been the law of the land since a landmark Supreme Court case in 1964 (Reynolds v Sims) ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment requires voting districts be as equal in population as possible.
Equal they may now be — but fair they are still not. The problem is “gerrymandering” – the ancient, insidious and so far insoluble practice in American politics of creating voting districts that protect incumbents and immunize the party in power from competitive elections. …
keep reading at Daily Local News
Senator Bob Casey, 3/23/17
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his decision to vote “no” on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court of The United States. Casey has used the weeks since the nomination was announced to thoroughly review of Judge Gorsuch’s record, meet with Gorsuch and judicial experts, and most recently reviewed his hours of testimony from his hearing. Below is a statement laying out Casey’s rationale on this decision:
“In order to properly discharge the constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on judicial nominees, I believe it is my duty as a U.S. Senator to evaluate the nominee based on several key criteria: character, temperament, professional and personal experience, judicial philosophy and, of course, prior judicial rulings. With respect to the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, I took this process seriously. I spent hours studying his decisions as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. I consulted a variety of legal scholars and practitioners to understand the nuances and implications of his approach to the law. I met him personally to discuss his work and his nomination. And I watched closely his testimony before the Judiciary Committee this week.
I have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit….
keep reading at Senator Bob Casey