- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2017

The Supreme Court announced Friday it would take up a second partisan gerrymandering case this term after hearing one earlier this year from the state of Wisconsin.

The court will hear the challenge brought by seven Republicans in Maryland’s sixth congressional district, who say Maryland lawmakers diluted Republican votes when they redrew the district map in 2011. A lower court ruled against them, saying there wasn’t evidence of an effective gerrymander.

It will be the second partisan gerrymandering case the high court justices consider this term.

“Turnout for Republican primary elections, for example, has dropped by as much as one-third throughout the district,” the plaintiffs argue, suing Maryland state officials including the state’s administrator of elections.

Their case brings a First Amendment retaliation claim, which centers on the premise the state burdened the voters’ First Amendment right to associate with a political party based on voting records.

But Maryland state officials said the plaintiffs’ case has no merit.

“Tellingly, plaintiffs have proffered no social-science measure, or data supported by expert explication, describing the extent to which they allege their votes were diluted,” the state officials argued to the high-court.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin case asks the court to accept a mathematical method for deciding how partisan is too partisan for an electoral district.

The case focused on Wisconsin’s General Assembly map, which was drawn in 2011 by Republicans who controlled the assembly and thus the redistricting process. In the 2012 election, Democrats received 53 percent of the vote in assembly elections but won just 39 of the 99 seats.

A lower court struck down the state’s districting, concluding it was too partisan.

The Supreme Court has said extreme partisanship, denying voters a fair chance to pick their representatives, was illegal. But it struggled to figure out how to determine whether a district map crossed that line.

The Wisconsin case was argued in October, but a decision has not yet been issued.

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