From Gerrymandering to Gay Rights, Supreme Court Faces 'Blockbuster' Term

From Gerrymandering to Gay Rights, Supreme Court Faces 'Blockbuster' Term

This term Supreme Court justices will consider major cases on voting rights, religious liberty, union funding and class-action suits.

Beyond the technical legal arguments lies a couple of policy issues that the court is being asked to address. Nearby, the U.S. Flag flies at half-staff over the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. on Tuesday Oct. 3, 2017 as a mark of respect for the victims of gun violence at a country music festival in Las Vegas the previous Sunday. Elsewhere, new software and reams of voter data now allow politicians to draw surgically precise maps, while increasing polarisation has upped the stakes.

Lawyers representing the League of Women Voters and 18 petitioners, all Democrats, oppose any delay and asked the judge to move the case along as quickly as possible - in time to have an affect on the 2018-midterm elections.

During its questioning, the Court wrestled with the question of how to determine when a redistricting plan is excessively partisan. That, all by itself, tells you something about the way the lines are drawn in Anne Arundel.

That effort will require an amendment to the state constitution, a lengthy process that involves passing the Legislature in two separate sessions prior to a voter referendum.

She called the nonscientific social science "pretty scientific", and, in any event, said the Wisconsin map "goes pretty much over the line".

The case promises to show the pivotal role Justice Anthony Kennedy will play on the court this term. In fact, a Supreme Court nominee was rejected in 1987 simply because he had previously used marijuana. But intervening could, as Mr Roberts fears, push the court directly into the political fray, risking what he described as "serious harm to the status and integrity" of his court.

Referring to the statement, Justice Chandrachud said: "Somebody should come and see in the court how the government is hauled up every day". Indeed, the social science here is not that hard. The problem is if the court should police the practice and if so is there a workable standard the court can apply? Alito also chimed in on whether the court should take over from the political branches. "Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape, and dacoity can not appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute", the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

The court has never before struck down election maps simply because they lock in an advantage for one party. Partisan gerrymanders have essentially remained outside of the court's jurisdiction.

While Kennedy didn't exactly tip his hand, he did still seem open to trying to find a solution.

The decision was challenged by the state, sending the case to the highest court of the land.

There might well be a good argument for reining in partisan gerrymandering.

Roberts raised concerns about the high court approving or rejecting future state electoral maps, suggesting the public could start viewing the court as a political body. Democrats tend to live clustered in cities, while Republicans sprawl across more heterogenous districts.

Gersch was in federal court, trying to fight back a stay by lawyers for Pennsylvania's General Assembly.

In 2010, after 40 years of Democratic dominance, Republicans gained control of the legislature and governor's office. The court relied upon a three-part legal standard based on discriminatory intent, discriminatory effect and the justification for the law.

If district lines can be redrawn so that one political party always has a distinct advantage, no matter what the numbers and affiliations of overall voters in a state, the most fundamental element of a democracy - the vote - will lose much of its meaning. In a speech last July in Raleigh, North Carolina, Holder vowed to "ensure that after the next census in 2020 lines are drawn in a fair way - not a partisan way - to ensure that people's wishes are reflected in the candidates who are elected". Oral arguments in this case were heard on Tuesday.

A similar case is brewing in Maryland, but it was brought by Republicans.

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