gerrymandering

Updated on June 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET

The way Thomas Hofeller talked about redistricting — the drawing of political boundaries and the sifting of voters into buckets — you could be forgiven if you assumed he was speaking about a loved one or a favorite holiday.

It's decision season at the U.S. Supreme Court, and there are a host of consequential cases the justices are deciding, from a controversial Trump administration proposal to adding a citizenship question to the census to gerrymandering and a question of separation of church and state.

As always, timing of which exact cases will be decided is unknown until the court releases them. The only clues are when the cases were argued, and, sometimes, that's not predictive either.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

A federal court in Michigan says that the state's Republican-controlled legislature unfairly drew some of Michigan's state legislative and U.S. House district lines and that a divided government will have to come up with new boundaries.

A panel of three judges said that 27 of 34 challenged districts diluted the weight of people's votes and that every challenged district is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided on the question of whether there's any limit on what the courts can impose on partisan redistricting, also known as gerrymandering, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the newest member of the court, appearing at least somewhat conflicted.

"I took some of your argument in the briefs and the amicus briefs to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a real problem for our democracy," Kavanaugh told the lawyers arguing the case, "and I'm not going to dispute that."

The Supreme Court will hear two cases Tuesday on partisan gerrymandering that could change how congressional districts are drawn across the country. Democrats in North Carolina are challenging election maps drawn by Republicans.

Partisan gerrymandering is back at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A year and a pivotal justice's retirement after the high court dodged the question, those seeking to break the political stranglehold over legislative redistricting are urging the justices to draw a line beyond which the Republican and Democratic parties cannot go in entrenching their political power, sometimes for decades at a time.

Across the country, states are on track to overwhelmingly change the way elections are run.

In the ballot measures that passed Tuesday, voters in at least three states took the power to determine political boundaries away from state legislatures, while a similar proposition in Utah was too close to call. Voter registration deadlines could become a thing of the past in three states that are making it easier to take part in elections.

Judges in North Carolina on Tuesday said that despite declaring the state's electoral map to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered for partisan reasons, there wasn't enough time for the map to be redrawn before midterm elections in November.

"We further find that imposing a new schedule for North Carolina's congressional elections would, at this late juncture, unduly interfere with the State's electoral machinery and likely confuse voters and depress turnout," Judges James Wynn Jr., William Osteen Jr. and W. Earl Britt wrote in their order Tuesday.

On a recent scorching afternoon in Austin, Texas, Democrat Justin Nelson held a bar crawl in three bars within just a few blocks of each other — and each of those three different bars were in three different congressional districts.

"Even in this baking hot Austin sun, you can walk these three blocks without even being totally drenched in sweat, because these districts are so close," said Nelson, who is campaigning to replace the state's Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, in November.

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.

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