WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped major rulings on whether state lawmakers should face curbs on their ability to draw legislative districts purely for partisan advantage, issuing narrow rulings in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland regarding the practice called partisan gerrymandering.
The court handed a victory to Wisconsin Republicans who drew state electoral districts that helped entrench their party in power by throwing out on a 9-0 vote a lower court ruling that the districts deprived Democratic voters of their constitutional rights including equal protection under the law.
In the Maryland case, the court in an unsigned opinion decided not to immediately block a Democratic-drawn U.S. House of Representatives district challenged by Republican voters but allowed the case to proceed.
The high court’s action enabled the justices to avoid a definitive ruling on whether courts have the power to intervene when political parties at the state level devise electoral maps expressly to tighten their grip on power at the expense of the other party.
Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham