Washington (AFP) - The US Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear a case about possible gerrymandering in the drawing up of Congressional district boundaries, a running sore point between Republicans and Democrats.
The case involves the state of Wisconsin, where ruling Republicans have been accused of taking partisan measures to redraw boundaries in their favor, but the court decision could have implications for the rest of the United States.
The Wisconsin case will be the first time since 2004 that Supreme Court justices will address political gerrymandering.
US district maps for state and federal elections are drawn up every 10 years following a census. Politicians elected in each state are usually responsible for making any changes.
The next changes are due after the 2020 census, giving the Supreme Court ruling a potentially significant impact on how re-districting is carried out.
The process is frequently accompanied by claims between US parties of partisan measures being taken to ensure a political advantage.
The term gerrymandering -- or an attempt to gerrymander -- was born in the US state of Massachusetts in 1812, when governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that was felt to benefit his party.
The US high court's decision to hear the Wisconsin case was welcomed by advocates of boundary reform.
"Gerrymandering has become so aggressive, extreme, and effective that there is an urgent need for the Supreme Court to finally step in and set boundaries," said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.