Vox Sentences: Gerrymandering has its day in court

Vox Sentences: Gerrymandering has its day in court




Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.


The US Supreme Court hears arguments on a landmark gerrymandering case; Palestine's two rival factions sit down for new talks; GM and Ford make big announcements about electric cars.




Oyez! Oyez! The Supreme Court is back in session.




David Becker/Getty Images


  • Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case about partisan gerrymandering that could have major implications for American politics. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]

  • The question at the center of the case is whether partisan gerrymandering — the practice of drawing legislative districts to give one political party an advantage over the other — is constitutional. This particular case involves Wisconsin’s district map, which was drawn in 2011. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]

  • Opponents of Wisconsin’s map said it’s unfair because it gives more weight to Republican voters, therefore violating the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. [SCOTUSblog / Amy Howe]

  • Proponents basically argued it’s not the Supreme Court’s job to weigh in on political matters. [Politico / Josh Gerstein]

  • The Court has yet to issue a decision, but the person everyone will be watching is Justice Anthony Kennedy, who aggressively questioned Wisconsin’s lawyers during oral arguments today (he didn’t question the Democratic challengers). [NYT / Adam Liptak and Michael Shear]

  • Kennedy is widely considered the swing vote in this case. When the Court last heard a gerrymandering case, in 2004, he sided with conservatives, voting not to establish a standard for unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. But Kennedy also left the door open for a standard to be decided in the future. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]

  • If Kennedy changes his mind this time, Republicans would be the big losers. Though both parties gerrymander, Republicans have reaped the biggest benefits in recent years. [NPR / Nina Totenberg]




Palestine’s rival factions sit down for talks




Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images


  • Fatah and Hamas, two rival political factions in Palestine, are taking the first steps toward possible reconciliation in new talks. [NYT / David Halbfinger]

  • For the past 10 years, the Palestinian government has been divided between Fatah, the nationalist party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Islamist extremist group Hamas, which runs the small, self-governing territory known as the Gaza Strip. [Vox / Shira Rubin]

  • Abbas has been slowly strangling Gaza and Hamas of resources, as he stopped paying the territory’s electricity bill earlier this year and cut the salaries of Gazan people working for the government. [Vox / Shira Rubin]

  • It was a gamble that paid off: Last month, Hamas leaders acquiesced to some of Abbas’s biggest demands, allowing Fatah to take control of the government. This was in part due to pressure from Egypt, a big Hamas ally. [NYT / David Halbfinger]

  • But talks are not going to be that easy; Hamas has already vowed it will not give up its arsenal of weapons, which could be a big barrier for a resolution. Talks between the two groups have a long history of failing, and many experts believe these will be no different. [Al Jazeera / Jonathan Cook]

  • The negotiations also come with outside pressure from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has certain demands. A unified Palestine could present more of a challenge to his government. [Associated Press]




Get your motor running ... very, very quietly




Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images


  • All hail the return of the electric car.

  • General Motors is the latest car manufacturer to make a bold statement about moving away from gas and diesel engines, as it announced a plan to release two new electric models in the next 18 months. [CNN Tech / Peter Valdes Dapena]

  • Mark Reuss, GM’s product development chief, told reporters that the company “believes its future is all electric,” and alluded to getting rid of traditional internal combustion engines. But he did not give a timetable for stopping the manufacture of gas and diesel engines altogether. [WSJ / Mike Colias]

  • GM wants to release a total of 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, substantially upping the amount of choice consumers would have. [The Verge / Andrew Hawkins]

  • GM is one of the biggest carmakers internationally, which makes its announcement notable, but it’s far from the only car company making the shift to electric. Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover all made similar announcements earlier this year. [Wired / Alex Davies]

  • And that’s just the carmakers. Governments worldwide are also broadcasting their steps away from fossil fuel–powered cars in the coming years. [Vox / David Roberts]

  • This summer, Britain and France both announced they would end the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040. India shortened that timetable, saying it would end sales of those cars by 2030. Norway, which leads the way in electric vehicles with 40 percent of the country’s cars already there, wants to go even further, and other European countries are doing the same. [Vox / David Roberts]

  • And both electric car sales and manufacturing are booming in China, which is betting on electric cars to turn around its struggling car industry so it can become more of a worldwide player. [WSJ / Trefor Moss]




Miscellaneous



  • An NPR editor accidentally posted about an adorable baby named Ramona who loves cats on the company’s official Facebook account. He quickly took down the post and issued an explanation, but Ramona’s fan base remains strong. [NPR / Tanya Ballard Brown]

  • A brief history of the cardigan, from the 1859 Battle of Magenta in the Crimean War to Kurt Cobain’s holey sweater epitomizing '90s grunge. [Racked / Jennifer Le Zotte]

  • Millennials are now also apparently responsible for the death of chain restaurants like Applebee’s. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. [Eater / Bijan Stephen]

  • The 25-year-old who co-founded and promoted the disastrous Fyre Festival is in court on charges he defrauded vendors and customers by promising them a luxury music festival complete with models, and instead delivering a crappy tent city. He is pleading not guilty. [Variety / Paula Parisi]

  • In annals of gross, toxic gunk: A bright green algae bloom is covering nearly the entire western part of Lake Erie with harmful cyanobacteria. It’s a product of fertilizer runoff, and it has become a regular problem for the people of Ohio. [Cleveland.com / Laura Johnston]




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