Gerrymandering is always drawing the boundaries of electoral districts in a way that gives one party an unfair advantage over its rivals. The term is derived from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts whose administration enacted a law in 1812 defining new state senatorial districts.
Supreme Court’s verdict
The supreme court on Thursday said that that federal courts must stay out of disputes over when politicians go too far in drawing district lines for partisan gain. This implies that the supreme court will play no role when politicians decide to bring their districts to favor their party. The 5-4 vote on Thursday ruled that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to regulate state election maps. This ruling is particularly a problem considering that every ten years there is a census after which line is redrawn. The next registration is in the year 2020, after which redistricting would be done. The main issue here is that in most states the redistricting is done by politicians themselves. This would give them a clear advantage in the elections as they could choose where the line is to be drawn that would benefit them the most.
Especially in the era of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, gerrymandering could be done in such high precision that line would be drawn at places that would give substantial advantage to the person or party drawing the line. The politicians use two methods to gain this advantage:-
- Packing: In this politicians stuff most of the opposition votes in fewest of districts possible so that only a few areas go to the opposition.
- Cracking: This method is used to spread the opposition votes thinly over numerous districts so that they don’t have a clear advantage in any of them.
In short supreme court has given Republicans a hugely advantageous position after 2020 census when redistricting would take place. Republicans can draw the districts which would ensure they win or have the majority of seats in the house.