WASHINGTON – 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.
The North Carolina map, drawn by the Republican majority in the state legislature, assured the GOP of winning 10 out of 13 seats in Congress in November despite a relatively close statewide vote between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a pattern that was repeated elsewhere, including in Ohio and Wisconsin.
The Maryland map, drawn by the legislature’s Democratic majority, once again handed Democrats seven of the state’s eight congressional seats. The battle there is over one specific district redesigned in 2012 to oust a GOP incumbent.
The high court sidestepped a potentially historic ruling in June that would have blocked states from drawing “gerrymandered” election maps to help one political party. Instead, they sent cases from Wisconsin, Maryland and North Carolina back to lower courts for further review.
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