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Ten years too late

Sometimes late is not better than never, and this may be one of those times:

A panel of three federal judges said on Monday that the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2011 redrawing of State Assembly districts to favor Republicans was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, the first such ruling in three decades of pitched legal battles over the issue.

Federal courts have struck down gerrymanders on racial grounds, but not on grounds that they unfairly give advantage to a political party — the more common form of gerrymandering. The case could now go directly to the Supreme Court, where its fate may rest with a single justice, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has expressed a willingness to strike down partisan gerrymanders but has yet to accept a rationale for it.

Should the court affirm the ruling, it could upend the next round of state redistricting, in 2021, for congressional and state elections nationwide, most of which is likely to be conducted by Republican-controlled legislatures that have swept into power in recent years.

“It is a huge deal,” said Heather Gerken, a Yale Law School professor and an expert on election law. “For years, everyone has waited for the Supreme Court to do something on this front. Now one of the lower courts has jump-started the debate.

“If this were to be a nationwide standard, 2021 would look quite different,” she said, “especially for the Democrats.”

via The New York Times

There is a slim possibility that this case will survive appeal in the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy may be so appalled at the prospect of Trump that he’ll accept the mathematical approach advocated by the plaintiffs. But the fact is that by the year 2020 we will likely also have at least one more Trump appointee in addition to the Scalia vacancy. I won’t mention names, but there are some people who don’t know when to retire, so we have to hope, and it may be a vain one, that the person(s) in question can live out the next four years. Even if that were to happen, there’s a good to excellent possibility that massive voter suppression will be massively legalized by the present court. By 2020 there’s a good chance that there will be only a few state legislatures that are not wholly owned subsidiaries of Koch Industries.

Had this happened ten years ago, it would have made a huge difference, but the vote suppressors and the autocrats are now far too firmly in control. Even if the case is still the law of the land in 2020, it will be up to a horde of right wing judges, along with a right wing justice department, to enforce it. Good luck with that.

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