Supreme Court agrees to wade into politically explosive issue of election maps drawn for partisan advantage

USA Today

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to re-enter the explosive debate about the way congressional and state legislative districts are drawn, instantly turbo-charging what had been a relatively sleepy docket of cases.

Much as they might have liked to avoid it, the justices had little choice but to accept requests from North Carolina Democrats and Maryland Republicans that they reconsider federal district court decisions striking down congressional district maps as unconstitutional. 

Their decision to hear the cases and schedule oral arguments for March doesn't mean the court is likely to agree with opponents of partisan gerrymandering, in which state legislatures draw maps to favor the party in power. In fact, the court's five conservatives are considered more likely to uphold the maps as an expected, albeit distasteful, part of the political process.

"If the Supreme Court fails to set limits on this undemocratic practice, we will see a festival of copycat gerrymandering in 2020 the likes of which the country has never seen before," said Paul Smith, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, which has been at the forefront of the fight in several states.

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