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Supreme Court agrees to hear Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] agreed Monday to review Gill v. Whitford [docket; order, PDF], a partisan-gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. The state is appealing the decision of a three-judge panel for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website], which struck down [order, PDF] a redistricting map that was created by the state's Republican-controlled legislature on the grounds that it was a product of partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court also put the lower court's order for the state to create a new redistricting plan by the fall on hold as per the request [application, PDF] of the appellants. The opinion states that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the application, which could be indicative of how the court will decide the case as the justices had to consider whether the state was likely to succeed on the merits when making their decision. Arguments for the case will likely be heard in November or December.

Voting rights and how voters are grouped and counted has become and increasingly important issue over the past year. Earlier this month the Supreme Court affirmed [JURIST report] a lower court decision striking down a North Carolina state House and Senate redistricting effort as racial gerrymandering that disproportionately impacted black voters. In May the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Cooper v. Harris [SCOTUSblog materials] that North Carolina's redistricting of Districts 1 and 12 was unconstitutional because the state "made no attempt to justify race-based districting there." In January the Department of Justice sued [JURIST report] Detroit suburbs over a potential Voting Rights Act violation regarding the ability of minorities to elect other minority members as council members. Earlier that week the Supreme Court blocked [JURIST report] a ruling ordering the redrawing of the congressional district map and special elections to be held in North Carolina. In September several organizations filed a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia's voter registration system [JURIST report]. Last April the Supreme Court unanimously upheld [JURIST report] an Arizona commission's decisions regarding the redistricting of voting districts in the state.

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