Although the most egregious gerrymandering has been Republican-led, two can play at that game. This week, it was the Democrats being called to the Supreme Court to defend the gerrymandering of several districts in Maryland.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the second of two lawsuits it will decide this term that challenge partisan gerrymandering — the time-dishonored practice of drawing legislative district lines to give one political party an unfair advantage. Wednesday's argument involved a map engineered by Maryland Democrats to unseat a long-serving Republican congressman. In October, the court heard a challenge to a Wisconsin legislative map engineered by Republicans to disadvantage Democrats.
The editorial boardLos Angeles Times has called for the Court to ban partisan gerrymandering.
Now that the second act of this legal drama has been played out, the justices should move toward the denouement: a decision holding that the Constitution prohibits congressional and legislative maps that are clearly designed to entrench one party and dilute the votes of the other. Such a ruling would strike a blow for representative government and put both political parties on notice that the sort of undemocratic mapmaking they have engaged in is no longer permissible.
At argument, the justices expressed concerns about timing—is it too close to November’s elections?—and the court’s role vis-á-vis partisan gerrymandering. Either one could provide some excuse for a delayed ruling or more stopgap answers.