WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will hear evidence this week that Democrats try to game the political system with the same zeal employed by Republicans. They just don’t have as many opportunities.
The challenge mounted by opponents of Maryland’s congressional district lines will give the court a second opportunity within six months to find a blatantly partisan election map unconstitutional — something it has never done before.
Across the nation, hundreds of members of Congress and thousands of state legislators are elected in districts drawn to favor the party that controls state government. That has largely favored Republicans during the past decade, as the justices heard in October when confronted by Wisconsin’s partisan artistry.
The lines in some major states are so one-sided that Democrats would need a landslide in November to win control of the House of Representatives, a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law estimates. In Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, where Republicans control a combined 31 of 43 seats in Congress, the report says Democrats would need to win the statewide vote to add any more House seats.
The case being heard Wednesday will give the high court a chance to see how Democrats designed Maryland’s map with similar strong-arm tactics. That could help assuage Chief Justice John Roberts’ concern that appearing to favor one party over another would affect the court’s “status and integrity” in the eyes of average Americans.