US Supreme Court justices divided in major voting rights case

US Supreme Court justices divided in major voting rights case

US Supreme Court justices divided in major voting rights case

The high court previously heard arguments in the case in November 2016 when it was shorthanded, and failed to issue a ruling.

Forcing the baker to "create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights", the Justice Department stated in a brief filed in September. Kennedy asked Wisconsin's solicitor general, implying that extreme partisan gerrymandering could violate the right to free speech by preventing those in the minority-in this case Wisconsin Democrats denied representation-from having an equal say in the political process. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the alleged gerrymandering was not unconstitutional. The plaintiffs in the case are average Wisconsin citizens who believe deeply in democracy and believe that the right to vote is a right worth fighting for. However, he did appear open to Smith's standing argument, suggesting that voters have a First Amendment interest in ensuring they can assemble with like-minded people all around their state.

Lawyers for Wisconsin Democratic voters tried to convince justices Tuesday that a measurable standard or test exists: the so-called efficiency gap.

There are only about a half-dozen congressional maps and a dozen state legislative maps that fit that "extreme" profile, he adds.

An eight-member court, deadlocked 4-4, didn't decide the issue a year ago. The justices potentially could issue a narrow decision sending the case back to lower courts without resolving the question of whether hearings are required. But employee advocates say workplaces are different because of a federal labor law that gives employees the right to engage in "concerted activities" - a guarantee some judges have said includes class actions. This is partly because Republicans control 66 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers, and both the legislatures and governorships of 26 states.

The case is a challenge to Wisconsin's latest redistricting plan, which in 2014 resulted in Republicans winning 63 of 99 state assembly seats with only 52 percent of the vote. In the case, three Democratic voters - Richard Vieth, Norma Jean Vieth and Susan Furey - challenged the congressional redistricting plan drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

"You are the only institution in the United States that can solve this problem just as democracy is about to get worse", Smith said. Any decision is expected to have far-reaching implications on the redistricting process. The girl's parents filed suit against the Garden City mayor and aldermen seeking damages for what they argued was negligence on the part of the city by allowing the bleachers to fall into a unsafe condition. The conservatives who did speak, including Chief Justice John Roberts, engaged fully with the anti-waiver side, exploring its position without evident hostility.

"Gerrymandering is distasteful", conservative Justice Samuel Alito said.

Courts have struck down districts as racially biased for decades, and other partisan districting lawsuits are moving through the courts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina.

Remarkably, some Republicans are joining Democrats in a collective cry for help.

Beverly Gill, the state election board's chair, maintained that "Act 43's districts are consistent with the prior court-drawn maps". His point was that the court could never agree on a workable standard to outlaw gerrymandering.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch said a court-approved formula for identifying unconstitutional gerrymandering would be hard to achieve, comparing various standards proposed to spices on a steak dinner. Today, a consultant armed with an algorithm and a precinct map can build a district that is better insulated against shifts in the political winds, and better able to remain in one party's control for years. Will that advantage last regardless of how the state swings politically to entrench one-party control? Second, the Court has at least four justices who will always rule that whatever benefits the Republican Party is A-OK. "It worked", she said, referring to Republicans' huge legislative majorities. Justice Ginsburg - this has all the features of the yellow dog contract. "What's really behind all of this?"

"What incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote?"

Some liberal justices wondered what would happen to voters if partisan gerrymandering made election results preordained.

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