>> The US Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether to rein in politicians who draw state electoral maps with the aim of bolstering their party's power. The case, brought by Republicans in Maryland, accuses state Democrats of a practice known as gerrymandering. Lawrence Hurley at the Supreme Court says the justices appeared conflicted on how or even whether to weigh in.
>> What was clear from the oral arguments is that there's no real debate on the bench about whether the Maryland Democrats had partisan aims when they passed this map. The question is whether the courts can intervene and do anything about it.>> At issue, Maryland's Sixth District. Redrawn in 2011 to favor Democrats, leading to a victory for Democratic Representative John De Laney over incumbent Republican Rosco Bartlett in 2012.
Despite GOP Governor Larry Hogan's decisive statewide victory in 2014, Republicans hold just one of Maryland's eight congressional seats. Republicans argue the state's electoral map violates the US Constitution's First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. And that Democrats retaliated against conservative voters based on their political views.>> The state says all they were doing was drawing up competitive districts.
But the other sides say you're basically discriminating against Republican voters by moving them out of that district or adding Democrats to the district so that they can no longer elect the candidate of their choosing.>> It's the second such case before the court in recent months. Similar to one brought by Wisconsin Democrats complaining the state's districts favor Republicans.
In the past, the Supreme Court has invalidated state electoral maps for racial discrimination, but never because of partisan advantage. Any decision on either the Wisconsin or Maryland cases could have profound implications for future US elections. And it doesn't look like the court is taking that lightly.