America Gerrymanders on—For the Moment?

Ron Johnston

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Abstract

Gerrymandering has long characterised the electoral cartography of the United States and a sequence of cases seeking to outlaw the practice have all failed before the Supreme Court. Its judgement in a 2006 case indicated that although the Court recognised the practice, it could identify no formal means of evaluating whether any particular map of Congressional or State electoral districts was a gerrymander that violated a constitutional provision. This encouraged those who drew up new district maps in many states after publication of the 2010 census data, most of which favoured the Republican party and were more egregious than previous such cartographies. A minority judgement in that case did suggest ways in which a gerrymander could be proved, however, and these were followed in a case brought regarding new State Assembly districts for Wisconsin. A lower court found in favour of the plaintiffs but this was over‐turned by a unanimous Supreme Court which found that the plaintiffs had no standing to challenge a state‐wide map. A concurrent decision by a minority of the Justices did suggest ways in which standing could be established and gerrymanders countered, and this may stimulate further cases—although it is uncertain whether a majority on the Court will accept such arguments. Meanwhile, America gerrymanders on.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-678
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Volume89
Issue number4
Early online date20 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • gerrymandering
  • United States
  • Gill v Whitford
  • partisan symmetry
  • efficiency gap

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