What is gerrymandering? Breaking down the impact of the Supreme Court's latest decision

WASHINGTON -- What is gerrymandering and what did the Supreme Court decide about it on Thursday? That's the question a lot of people are asking right now. ABC7 News spoke to a political expert to break it all down and explain why it matters to you.

What is gerrymandering?

It's a process where the boundaries of legislative districts are redrawn to favor the political interests of one party. Boundaries are redrawn to include as many of one party's voters as possible, and to help that party have the best chance possible to win as many seats of power.

What is 'packing' and 'cracking'?

'Packing' is the gerrymandering process where one party packs their voters together into certain areas. That ensures that there's enough liked-minded voters in a legislative district to help one party's candidate win.

'Cracking' is the gerrymandering process where the voters of the opposition party are spread out into different legislative districts, making their voting strength weaker and giving the other party candidate a better chance to succeed.

What states are seeing this happen?

Cases against gerrymandering have been filed in Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. The most tilted-maps tend to be in states under Republican control. Republicans did well in the 2010 elections giving them wider control of state legislatures, which were in charge of redistricting after the 2010 census.

What did the Supreme Court decide?

The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to efforts to combat the drawing of electoral districts for partisan gain. The conservative justices ruled Thursday that federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over partisan gerrymandering. The justices said by a 5-4 vote that voters and elected officials should be the arbiters of what is a political dispute.

Why does this matter?

The ruling could embolden political line-drawing after the 2020 census, which could impact who has control over leadership positions from the state level all the way up to the national level.

What is the impact for California?

The impact is still not clear. California has Citizens Redistricting Commission which is comprised of 14 citizens from a variety of backgrounds and geographic locations who draw California's district boundaries based on preserving communities of interest. This was created to take the power of legislative redistricting out of the hands of lawmakers who had a clear interest in getting themselves and their party colleagues reelected. Seven other states including Arizona have similiar citizens commissions.

However, it could influence the broader makeup of the House of Representatives and that could influence national policy decisions that impact California
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