SCOTUS Blog: Optimism for challengers in Wisconsin redistricting case
Today may have been only the second day of the Supreme Court’s new term, but it may also prove to be one of the biggest. The justices heard oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to the redistricting plan passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. A federal court struck down the plan last year, agreeing with the plaintiffs that it violated the Constitution because it was the product of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. After roughly an hour of oral argument this morning, the justices seemed to agree that partisan gerrymandering is, as Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged, “distasteful.” But there was no apparent agreement about whether courts could or should get involved in policing the practice.
Perhaps notably, Kennedy did not ask Smith any questions at all during Smith’s 30 minutes at the lectern – which, although there’s no way to know, would seem to bode well for the challengers. Smith seemed to direct his closing remarks straight at Kennedy, as he told the justices that if they do not act now, it could be too late. We’ll know by the end of June whether and how the court will act.