Supreme Court hears gerrymandering case arguments

WASHINTON (Gray DC) -- Is Wisconsin’s Assembly district map gerrymandered enough to make it unconstitutional?
That’s the question the U-S Supreme Court is weighing.
Both sides argued their case to the court on Tuesday.

The State of Wisconsin standing behind current Assembly District lines-- and a group of Wisconsin citizens arguing they unconstitutionally benefit Republicans.

Paul Smith, who has argued political gerrymandering cases to the Supreme Court before, says he feels he's finally made a winning argument.

Smith said, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy is viewed as a very important vote, and he didn’t push me hard at all.”

Most Supreme Court experts agree, the case against Wisconsin’s Assembly District map hinges on Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote.

While Smith admits you can’t predict how a justice will decide a case from oral arguments, Smith does say this case should appeal directly to Kennedy, by measuring what defines a fair map.

Smith said, “We tried very hard to give those to him, and I think I said ‘we’ve given you what you wanted in Vieth, then I was hopeful that he agreed with me because he didn’t disagree with me.”

Wisconsin’s Solicitor General, Misha Tseytlin, argued the map is not unconstitutional, and wrote off Smith’s argument that there’s a way to measure a fair political district map.

Tseytlin said, "The social science gobbledygook, as one of the justices says, is really all that’s being presented here, and is nothing new from what’s presented in prior cases where the court has not found a manageable standard in this area of law."

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, sat in on oral arguments. Afterward, he said, “I’m not making any judgement on exactly what the ruling will be, because I don’t know, no one knows.”

Fitzgerald was key in helping develop the Assembly district map in 2011.

Fitzgerald said, "I think the map was done in a way that kind of left open the idea that campaigns matter, candidates matter, and messaging matters. There wasn’t a lot of discussion of that today in the court."

The Supreme Court has never ruled in favor of a political gerrymandering challenge before.
During oral arguments, some justices were concerned that if they rule for this one, political map drawing could fall onto the courts, nationwide.

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