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Gerrymandering occurs when political or electoral districts are drawn with the purpose of giving one political group an advantage over another. This practice often results in districts with bizarre or strange shapes. The term gerrymander takes its name from a political cartoon first published in the Boston Gazette in 1813 and is also occasionally referred to as political gerrymandering or jurisdictional gerrymandering. 

Additional information about the cartoon can be found at:

Due to its influence over politics and anti-democratic nature, the practice of gerrymandering remains controversial. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in Rucho v. Common Cause that allegations of political gerrymandering are not justiciable and can therefore not be challenged in federal court. 

However, as seen in Cooper v. Harris in 2017, gerrymandering districts based on racial makeup violates the Voting Rights Act and is therefore illegal and justiciable. 

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]