In Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the court is considering when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain in a set of cases arising from North Carolina and Maryland that could fundamentally impact the balance of power in legislatures and Congress. Similar cases out of Ohio and Michigan have been put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision.
Although the court has a standard to weed out extreme racial gerrymanders, it has never been able to settle on a standard for partisan gerrymandering.
What’s being argued about here: The critics say that with sophisticated new redistricting technology, map drawers are able to manipulate the system more than ever, and entrench the governing party in power. States argue that there is no manageable standard and that the Constitution gives them broad authority to regulate redistricting.
Why these cases matter: On the eve of the next census, this case could change how maps are drawn. The justices could, for the first time, establish a test to determine when partisan motivation is too much, or they could slam the door shut on such claims, holding that it is an issue better left to the political branches of government.