The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Benisek v. Lamone [SCOTUS blog], a high-profile partisan-gerrymandering case out of Maryland.
The case involves the 6th congressional district in Maryland, which was predominantly Republican for two decades. However, in 2011, during the redistricting, the 6th district political designation shifted. According to the petitioner, this redistricting resulted in the Democrats’ win. The petitioners, residents of the 6th district, allege Democrats engaged in partisan gerrymandering, redrawing the map to favor one political party over another, to retaliate against them for their past and continuance support of Republicans.
Petitioners argue that the redistricting of the 6th district is a violation of their First Amendment [text] rights to free speech and assembly, by prejudicing citizens for their political views. Maryland officials, however, denied the gerrymandering allegations, and provide that even it they did there is no legal standard available to determine when partisan gerrymandering exceeds the permissible threshold.
Petitioner is seeking for the redistricting of the 6th district to be invalidated—a move that could finally result in the Supreme Court ruling against or setting a standard for gerrymandering.
The case was originally put on hold in the lower courts, awaiting the Supreme Court to decide on a Wisconsin gerrymandering case [JURIST report].