Political Gerrymandering Definition

In Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004) (Kennedy, J., concurring in the judgment) the term 'political gerrymander' has been defined as "the practice of dividing a geographical area into electoral districts, often of highly irregular shape to give one political party an unfair advantage by diluting the opposition's voting strength." Id. at 271 n.1. Justice Kennedy recognized the "obstacle" presented by the continuing "absence of rules to limit and confine judicial intervention" in the adjudication of political gerrymandering claims: "With uncertain limits, intervening courts--even when proceeding with best intentions--would risk assuming political, not legal, responsibility for a process that often produces ill will and distrust." In his opinion for the plurality in Vieth, Justice Scalia emphasized the importance of a solid and demonstrable criterion "to enable the state legislatures to discern the limits of their districting discretion, to meaningfully constrain the discretion of the courts, and to win public acceptance for the courts' intrusion into a process that is the very foundation of democratic decisionmaking." 541 U.S. at 291 (plurality). A political gerrymandering claim is thus akin to a claim under section 21 that a district has been "drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent." Art. III, 21(a), Fla. Const. And the concerns regarding "discernible and manageable standards," Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. at 123, to be utilized by judges in determining the validity of political gerrymandering claims are directly applicable to the context of an improper intent claim under section 21.