News & Media

Professor Publishes Article Proposing a New Approach to Assessing the Constitutionality of Partisan Gerrymandering

Published: February 08, 2018

Professor Steven Semeraro has published an article proposing a new method for assessing whether gerrymandering violates the Equal Protection Clause. Partisan gerrymandering occurs when electoral districts are drawn in a manner discriminating against a political party. The article looks to the original meaning of the voting clauses in the Constitution as well as the history of legislative and judicial action relating to drawing voting districts. Prof. Semeraro argues against the common notion that some gerrymandering for partisan purposes is acceptable as long as it doesn’t cross some ill-defined line. The question, he contends, is one of kind not degree. Gerrymandering is constitutionally acceptable if it involves either (1) respecting historical geographic boundaries; or (2) seeks to ensure that the percentage of legislators is roughly proportionate to the state-wide vote totals. By contrast, gerrymanders that conflict with both of these legitimate goals are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is currently deciding gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland. And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held a gerrymander of Congressional districts in that state violated the Pennsylvania state constitution. The Supreme Court decisions are expected by June, and the results may impact which party controls the House of Representatives after the 2018 mid-term elections as well as the statehouses in a number of states.

To access the article, download here.

Professor Semeraro is available for media interviews on this vital topic. He may be reached at: