Author: Kyle Moore
Page Title: Supreme Court Decides Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case
In Gill v. Whitford, the Supreme Court recently decided that Plaintiffs’ efficiency gap measure, which is the difference between the Party’s respective wasted votes in an election, divided by the total number of votes cast, did not address the effect that a gerrymander had on the votes of particular citizens. The case was brought by a group of Democratic Party voters.
Gerrymandering is a practice of drawing district lines for the purpose of influencing an election. Plaintiffs were required to show the effect that a gerrymander had on Democratic votes in order to pass the injury-in-fact element for Article III standing. In this case, Plaintiffs argued that Republicans’ redistricting plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that systematically diluted its voting strength through two gerrymandering techniques, known as “cracking” and “packing.” Cracking is a strategy that divides the party’s supporters among multiple districts so that they fall short of majority in each one. On the other hand, packing is a strategy that divides a party’s supporters among multiple districts that they won by overwhelming margins, thus giving the party less credit for its votes, because all of the votes are combined into a single unit.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court remanded the case to allow the voters to have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries. The impact of this decision leaves the door open for Democratic voters to successfully demonstrate the effect that a gerrymander had on the party’s votes. At this point, it looks like it will be a difficult task for Plaintiffs to successfully bring a claim. This is because gerrymandering is designed to deceptively skew the votes in one parties favor.