The justices are hearing arguments Tuesday in a dispute between Democratic voters and Wisconsin Republicans who drew maps that have entrenched their control of the legislature in a state that is otherwise closely divided between the parties.
The court previously heard arguments in the case in November 2016 when it was shorthanded, and failed to issue a ruling.
Initiating suo moto proceedings based on the recent verdict of the Supreme Court in connection with custodial deaths, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sunder said "in terms of the judgment dated September 15, 2017, of the Supreme Court we initiate suo moto public interest petition to identify next of kin of the prisoners who have admittedly died an unnatural death as revealed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) during the period between 2012 and 2015 and thereafter for awarding suitable compensation except whom adequate compensation was already been awarded".
Gerrymandering has been around for about as long as politics, but Wisconsin's case has an unfamiliar twist. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority. The court concluded that the evidence established that one of the purposes of the redistricting plan - Act 43 - "was to secure Republican control of the Assembly under any likely future electoral scenario for the remainder of the decade, in other words to entrench the Republican Party in power". It's not good for Republicans or Democrats.
Achieving this normally means dividing districts up along highly irregular lines to ensure that voters from each party are concentrated in the right areas and spread thin in others, as the Washington Post illustrates using a popular explanation adapted from Reddit. Murphy conceded it would be. Republicans gerrymandered legislative district lines so aggressively that in the next election, even though Wisconsin Democrats won 174,000 more votes than Republicans in races for state assembly seats, Republicans won a 60-39 majority in the chamber.
It had been diminishing over time and left for good on December 12, 2000, when the court, in a 5-4 decision, halted the vote-counting in Florida and handed a disputed overtime presidential election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer proposed a five-part inquiry for courts to follow in such cases, while Justice Elena Kagan suggested judges can use the same techniques that states do when drawing the maps for partisan advantage.
But Alito voiced doubt over whether the metrics used to measure gerrymandering, drawn from social science and endorsed by the lower court, were manageable. "What's this court supposed to do, a pinch of this, a pinch of that?" "A pinch of this, a pinch of that?" he asked. Aren't those all textual indications in the Constitution itself that maybe we ought to be cautious about stepping in here? Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California (R), calls on the Supreme Court to "terminate" gerrymandering.
The challengers' new filings relied heavily upon one mootness doctrine - that one party in a dispute is not entitled to scuttle the dispute, just by changing the behavior that led to the fight in the first place.
Democrats are urging the court to consider state legislative district elections, in which voters choose between candidates, as the near-equivalent of statewide proportional elections, in which voters vote for parties, not people.
Namely, attorney David Gersch argued, counts in the Pennsylvania suit that relate to freedom of speech and expression can't be made moot by the U.S. Supremes because the state constitution has broader protections in that area. "That is going to cause very serious harm to the status and the integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country".
"What incentive is there for a voter to exercise his vote?" "Where does the NLRA say 'in the workplace?'" Ginsburg asked. What becomes of the precious right to vote?
Republicans now represent 13 of 18 congressional districts in Pennsylvania, despite winning about half the statewide votes in the past three elections.
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Red Sox vs. Astros ALDS Preview
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