By Barbara Leonard

Courthouse News

WASHINGTON (CN) – After sweeping away the opportunity last term to tackle partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court announced Friday that justices will hear new cases this spring out of Maryland and North Carolina.

The Supreme Court tangoed briefly with both of the new cases on the heels of last year’s decision to punt in the Wisconsin battle Gill v. Whitford.

Rather than determining whether Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature drew district lines in 2011 to favor their party at Democrats’ expense, the justices opted last year to have the lower court take another look at whether the challengers had standing to bring their case at all.

Separately that same day, meanwhile, the justices affirmed denial of an injunction in Benisek v. Lamone, a case where a group of Maryland voters insisted that gerrymandering by the state would cause irreparable harm.

A week later, the justices cited Gill in calling for reconsideration of another gerrymandering squabble out of North Carolina: Rucho v. Common Cause.

Friday’s order list includes both Benisek and Rucho among cases set for argument in March.

While the Maryland voters are challenging a 2011 map, the North Carolina voters a congressional map that the North Carolina Legislature adopted in 2016.

After a three-judge district court struck down the North Carolina map was the product of partisan gerrymandering, it blocked the state from using the map after November 2018.

Justice Anthony Kennedy had been seen last year as the deciding vote in Gill. Now that Kennedy has been succeeded on the bench by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court has a conservative majority and is expected to rule that courts have no place in settling claims of partisan gerrymandering.

In addition to the two gerrymandering cases, the Friday order list mentions four cases where the justices granted writs of certiorari.

Bradley Weston Taggert petitioned the Supreme Court over his bankruptcy case, where Shelley Lorenzen, who serves as executor of the estate of Stuart Brown, and others were held in contempt after violating a discharge injunction.

Though the bankruptcy court entered a $2,000 punitive damages award, the bankruptcy appellate panel reversed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Taggert wants the court decide whether under the Bankruptcy Code a creditor’s good-faith belief that the discharge injunction does not apply precludes a finding of civil contempt.

While Taggert is represented by Daniel Geyser of Dallas, Texas, the respondents are represented by the firms Mayer Brown and Portland, Oregon-based attorney Hollis K. McMilan.

The United States is the petitioner in a second case that was granted certiorari Friday.

This story is developing…