Princeton Election Consortium

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Amicus Brief in Gill v. Whitford

August 30th, 2017, 10:39pm by Sam Wang


Today we submitted our amicus brief (read the PDF) in the case of Gill v. Whitford. The authors are Heather Gerken, Jonathan N. Katz, Gary King, Larry Sabato, and me. In it, we argue that the Supreme Court should define basic fairness in redistricting using the concept of partisan symmetry. We use this idea to suggest simple statistical tests that could be used as a manageable standard to identify extreme partisan gerrymandering.

For example, are Democratic districts more packed than Republican districts than would be expected from inadvertent effects? That can be determined using Student’s t-test, the most common test in the sciences, invented by an experimental brewer at the Guinness Beer Company over 100 years ago.

If the Court accepts our recommendation, then there would be, for the first time, a way for courts to say when a partisan gerrymander has gone too far. This has been an unresolved issue since the mid-1980′s, when the Court first said that partisan gerrymandering was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Now that partisan gerrymanders have become rampant in the last redistricting cycle, we believe it is time for the Supreme Court to act.

If you want to learn more about symmetry standards, I invite you to visit the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. You can also support our work here.

Tags: Redistricting · U.S. Institutions

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