redistricting

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court justices seemed to grasp the problem of gerrymandering in oral arguments on Wednesday and that it will only get worse, as computer-assisted redistricting gets even more refined.

But they appeared frustrated over what to do about it — without becoming the constant police officer on the beat.

This case, involving a Democratic-drawn congressional district in Maryland, is essentially Act II of the gerrymandering play at the Supreme Court.

Updated at 9:39 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a Republican challenge to the newly drawn Pennsylvania congressional map ahead of the 2018 elections.

The decision means Republicans have few, if any, options remaining to try to stem a map that will almost certainly result in Democrats picking up potentially three or four seats and could make half a dozen or more competitive.

Tuesday is the filing deadline for candidates for Pennsylvania's May 15 primaries.

Even as Democrats and Republicans spend 2018 vying to win key races around the country, a larger legal battle underway this year could reshape the American political map — literally.

By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.

The state of those legal cases and other key ones (that could affect 2018 and 2020) are below.

Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

There have been several significant rulings recently in the continued fight over partisan gerrymandering in states around the country. The US Supreme Court this week said it won’t interfere with a ruling ordering Pennsylvania lawmakers to redraw Congressional district maps, which state courts had found in violation of the state constitution.

Updated at 4:08 p.m. ET

Pennsylvania will soon have new congressional maps.

The United States Supreme Court has decided not to block a state court ruling requiring Pennsylvania's Legislature to immediately redraw its legislative boundaries.

Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court had previously ruled those 18 congressional districts — drawn by a Republican Legislature and signed by a Republican governor in 2011 — were overly partisan and violated the state Constitution.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's congressional district map today, saying it "clearly, plainly and palpably" violates the state Constitution.

The justices ruled 4-3 just days after hearing oral arguments in the case.

angela n. / Flickr

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on Gill v. Whitford, also known as the Wisconsin gerrymandering case.

There is a lot of uncertainty as to how the court will rule, with most of the conservative and liberal justices coming down on opposite sides of the issue. As is often the case, Justice Kennedy will likely be the deciding vote.

Updated on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. ET

Keith Gaddie has "hung up his spurs."

The election expert from the University of Oklahoma no longer helps state legislatures draw new district lines to maximize their partisan advantage.

He was still wearing those spurs in 2011 when he provided data that helped Wisconsin Republicans enact a legislative redistricting plan aimed at maximizing their power for the foreseeable future.

But now he has reversed course and filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the practice is undemocratic.

ZACH GIBSON/GETTY IMAGES

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme is expected to take up a Wisconsin case that could have national implications.

Justices will hear arguments on the controversial political maps that Republican lawmakers drafted in 2011, after the most recent census. Democrats and liberal groups say the maps are unconstitutional, because the new boundaries give the GOP a big advantage in elections.

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The political maps the state's Republican lawmakers drew in 2011 are headed to the nation's highest court. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will consider Wisconsin's redistricting lawsuit.

At the heart of the legal challenge is whether the new Assembly boundaries that Republicans shaped create districts that are too partisan. Democrats accuse republicans of gerrymandering -- drawing the lines in such a manner that makes it nearly impossible for Democrats to win.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up an appeal over electoral districts in Wisconsin after a lower court ruled that the state's Republican-drawn map constitutes an "unconstitutional partisan gerrymander."

It's the first time in more than a decade that the nation's highest court will take up the issue of partisan gerrymandering, or drawing voting districts with the aim of strengthening one political party.

ZACH GIBSON/GETTY IMAGES

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to consider the issue of partisan redistricting that has arisen in Wisconsin. Republican legislators redrew the state's political boundaries in 2011, in a manner that Democrats argue put Democratic voters at a disadvantage. GOP lawmakers defend the maps, as does state Attorney General Brad Schimel. Oral arguments are expected to take place after the high court convenes in October.

National Atlas of the United States / Department of Interior

Politically, Wisconsin has long been considered a “purple state.” Not Democratic or Republican; a swing state. But all that changed after the 2010 election, when Wisconsin voted a Republican majority into the state assembly. What happened next changed the course of state politics and undermined the very concept of democracy through what was considered a relatively benign practice - gerrymandering.

Wisconsin State Legislature

A three-judge federal panel on Friday told the Legislature to redraw Wisconsin's legislative boundaries and to complete the job by November. Opponents of the existing maps wanted judges to redraw them but are pleased that the federal panel is demanding change and yet this year.

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Wisconsin is one of several states embroiled in a court battle over redistricting. Each state's case is different, yet commonalities are emerging over how much gerrymandering is allowed.

Gerrymandering means drawing political districts to gain an advantage.

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