We won’t get tired of saying it: ending gerrymandering is not a partisan issue. With midterms 214 days away, advocates of fair redistricting and elections are itching for a decision that could secure fair maps before November. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a second gerrymandering case from Maryland; they first heard a case from Wisconsin in October 2017. There are important distinctions between the cases that may explain why the Court accepted two cases addressing the same issue in the same session. Maryland’s case focuses on a single district which Republicans say was unfairly gerrymandered by Democrats to flip it, and they’re making a First Amendment argument. In contrast, Wisconsin’s case charges that Republicans unfairly gerrymandered the entire state in their favor, and their argument includes a mathematical solution for the problem. It hasn’t been easy to predict what the final decisions may be, but basic contentions exist over the role the Supreme Court should play in election processes with partisan implications and, if they do intervene, what standard they will create for measuring partisan gerrymandering. A supreme court decision that provides such a standard for redistricting would settle gerrymandering debates elsewhere, like in Pennsylvania where the arguments over the PA Supreme Court’s redistricting decision has jeopardized judiciary independence. In the meantime, fair election advocates are continuing to push for redistricting reforms, with many calling for non-partisan state redistricting commissions (like the one our allies at Voters Not Politicians in Michigan are pushing). A decision is expected by June, and we’ll be closely following the twists and turns of the national gerrymandering debate.

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