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June 23, 2017

New York Law Journal

By: Jerry H. Goldfeder

At the same time congressional committees are investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the judiciary has been grappling with another critical challenge to American democracy: the preponderance of partisan and racial gerrymandering. The manipulation of district lines to create electoral advantage is not a new problem. In the early history of our country, Patrick Henry famously tried to draw congressional district lines that would keep James Madison from winning a seat in our first congressional elections. But courts today face the specter of elected officials and party officers using high-end technology and increasingly fine-grained data about voters to create maps that lock in their advantage and shut out opponents for years. Recent rulings and pending litigation in both district courts and the U.S. Supreme Court could have a significant impact on the balance of power at both the state and federal level on the new round of redistricting after the 2020 census. North Carolina may be ground zero, the first piece of a doctrinal puzzle that ends, hopefully, in fewer gerrymanders that distort democracy.

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