Supreme Court to hear partisan gerrymandering case

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will take up the most important gerrymandering case in more than a decade, it announced Monday.

The case involves district lines in Wisconsin that challengers say were drawn unconstitutionally to benefit Republicans. The case could have a major impact on how district lines are drawn up nationwide.

The court has said that too much partisanship in map drawing is illegal, but it has never said how much is too much.

“Although a majority of the court has suggested that states can violate the Constitution if they draw legislative districts primarily to benefit one political party, the justices have never been able to identify the specific point at which states cross the constitutional line. In this case, a lower court held that Wisconsin had indeed crossed that line,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law.

“If the justices agree, it would be the first time the court has articulated a constitutional rule in this context, which could — and likely would — have enormous ramifications nationwide,” he added.

This is the second time justices have acted on gerrymandering this year.

Earlier this year, justices sided with Democrats and civil rights groups who challenged the North Carolina maps arguing that they unnecessarily packed African-Americans into two districts.

This made it easier for African-Americans to re-elect incumbents to those two seats, but diluted their votes in surrounding areas.