Updated Mar 28, 2018

This time, SCOTUS gerrymandering case focuses on Democrats

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court last October during a Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case. Photo: Olivier Douliery / Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments from Maryland Republicans that the state’s 6th Congressional District was intentionally drawn by the Democratic-controlled state legislature to cost a GOP incumbent his seat. This comes after it heard a similar case from Democrats in Wisconsin who say the GOP-controlled legislature gerrymandered the entire state map to maximize their majority.

Why it matters: The court's decisions, expected by June, could impose constitutional limits on partisan gerrymandering or allow it to happen with virtually no limits.

The back story:

  • In many states, legislators have the power to draw new legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the census count. Therefore, it’s no surprise the majority party would craft lines to boost their advantage — a practice known as gerrymandering.
    • In this case, then-Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, acknowledged in a deposition that "it was also my intent" to create a district "where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican."
  • Democrats used the 2011 redistricting to flip the 6th Congressional District — a Republican stronghold — by including parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County. It increased their advantage in the state's congressional delegation from 6-2 to 7-1.
  • The lawsuit was filed in 2013, and last August a three-judge federal panel declined to throw out the voting map, which prompted Republicans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

What to watch: Most of the attention throughout the hearing will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. When the nine justices heard the Wisconsin case last October, the court apparently split along ideological lines, leaving Kennedy seemingly with the decisive vote.

The big picture: The justices' involvement comes at a time when partisan redistricting is drawing increasingly close scrutiny in the political debate and in the courts.

  • Just last week, the high court declined a GOP request to intervene in a Pennsylvania case where the state Supreme Court invalidated the state's pro-Republican gerrymandered congressional map and replaced it with a court-drawn plan.

Go deeper: Here's where the big redistricting court fights stand

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,500 in the U.S. Sunday evening, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday that this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,270,069 — Total deaths: 69,309 — Total recoveries: 259,810Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 335,524 — Total deaths: 9,562 — Total recoveries: 17,266Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 39 mins ago - Health