For the third year, Common Cause organized a Partisan Gerrymandering Writing Competition. Many papers have focused on quantitative measures of partisan gerrymandering. These approaches have served as vital underpinnings of cases that have transformed the conversation around how to legally curb partisan gerrymandering. Common Cause sought academic papers that defend, critique, or expand on existing legal theories for partisan gerrymandering cases or that propose new legal theories. As cases make their way through the courts, we look to stimulate scholarly research and writing to assist courts in developing greater legal clarity around how to determine what is an unconstitutional gerrymander.
The Supreme Court of the United States will hear two cases in 2019 that could decide the fate of partisan gerrymandering. Common Cause is a plaintiff in Rucho v. Common Cause, a challenge to a Republican gerrymander of North Carolina’s congressional districts, and is supporting plaintiffs in Lamone v. Benisek, a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander of Maryland’s congressional map.
The Supreme Court has stated that “partisan gerrymanders are incompatible with democratic principles.” At least five justices are open to articulating a constitutional standard for when partisan gerrymanders can be challenged. With increasingly precise mapping technology coupled with extreme partisan gamesmanship, the stakes are high for how our representative democracy will look in the future.
Submission Details: Papers were due at 11:59 PM PST on Sunday, April 1, 2018. Detailed submission requirements can be found here. Papers were screened by Common Cause legal staff and finalists were sent to a judging panel of election law experts. The 2018 winners were published in Election Law Journal’s December 2018 edition and received a cash prize of $5,000 (1st place), $3,000 (2nd place), or $2,000 (3rd place).