In preparation for the weekend, we’re giving you an obscure fact to share at your next dinner party, and guess what, it’s about a dinner party! So meta, we know. Historians ascribe the term “gerrymander” to a Boston shindig back in 1812, where guests likened a misshapen senatorial district, signed into law by Governor Elbridge Gerry, to a salamander. “No, a Gerry-mander,” one of them quipped, and the rest was history. While the story might be obscure, it’s not totally irrelevant. Just this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s redistricting plans as unconstitutionally in favor of Republicans. According to the ruling, the state legislature will have to redraw the maps before the 2018 midterms, so this decision could have a significant impact in the near future. Other redistricting cases have also made the news as of late, including a decision to strike down redistricting plans in North Carolina, which according to a federal court, constituted a violation of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and Article I of the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked the ruling last week, but stay tuned, as we await decisions on similar cases in Maryland and Wisconsin. In the meantime, we thought we’d remind you that the interim chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has made a career defending state redistricting plans charged with “racial gerrymandering.” If only we felt better about his potential successor.

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