Tag Archives: gerrymander

SCOTUS won’t block Pennsylvania gerrymandering decision

Source: Boston Globe

“The US Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop Pennsylvania’s highest court from requiring lawmakers there to redraw the state’s congressional map, which the state court had found to be marred by partisan gerrymandering. …. The latest decision, from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, struck down the state’s congressional map, saying it ‘clearly, plainly, and palpably’ violated the state’s constitution. The court told state lawmakers to redraw the state’s 18 House districts, which currently favor Republicans, and it left open the possibility that it would impose its own map. Under the current map, Republicans control 13 of those 18 seats. Election law experts say that a nonpartisan map could move as many as three of those seats to Democrats and increase that party’s chances of regaining control of the House in the midterm elections this fall.” (02/05/18)


Has the tide turned against partisan gerrymandering?

Source: The Atlantic
by David A Graham

“Across the nation, judges are discovering that if you look for it, partisan gerrymandering actually is all around you. Though courts have historically been reluctant to strike down redistricting plans on the basis of political bias …. Although districts are sometimes struck down for gerrymandering on the basis of race, courts have been reluctant to declare gerrymanders unconstitutional on partisan bounds because such rulings thrust the judiciary into the middle of partisan battles. Since legislatures are, in most states, entitled to draw the lines, it’s always been assumed that they will draw lines that give their own party an edge. The question is whether they can go too far.” (01/23/18)


SCOTUS: That’s OK, North Carolina, you can keep your unconstitutional gerrymander districts for now

Source: US News & World Report

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a lower court’s order for North Carolina to rework its congressional map because Republicans violated the Constitution by drawing electoral districts intended to maximize their party’s chances of winning. The conservative-majority court granted a bid by Republican legislators in North Carolina to suspend the Jan. 9 order by a federal court panel in Greensboro that gave the Republican-controlled General Assembly until Jan. 24 to come up with a new map for U.S. House of Representatives districts. Two liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, objected to the high court’s action. The Supreme Court’s decision to stay the order reduces the chance that the current district lines will be altered ahead of the November mid-term congressional elections. The court offered no reason for its decision.” (01/18/18)


SCOTUS takes up Texas redistricting case

Source: CNN

“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it plans to hear a significant voting rights case, agreeing to review a lower court opinion that invalidated congressional and statehouse maps in Texas. The order adds another case touching on voting disputes to the court’s docket at a time when the justices are already considering cases concerning partisan gerrymandering and the purge of voter rolls in Ohio. … After the last census, voting rights groups such as the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund challenged maps drawn in 2011 by the Republican led legislature. A court struck down the maps finding that they were enacted with a discriminatory purpose and ordered new interim maps to be drawn.” (01/12/18)


NC: Court strikes down congressional districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders

Source: Raleigh News & Observer

“A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s election districts for U.S. Congress on Tuesday as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and gave lawmakers until Jan. 29 to bring them new maps to correct the problem. The ruling comes in cases filed by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause in North Carolina stemming from maps adopted in 2016 during a special legislative session. … The judges — James A. Wynn, a Barack Obama appointee to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and federal district judges W. Earl Britt, a Jimmy Carter appointee, and William L. Osteen Jr., a George W. Bush appointee — were unanimous that North Carolina lawmakers under Republican leadership violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause when they drew maps explicitly to favor their party.” (01/09/18)


To fight gerrymandering, let us continue to experiment

Source: Cato Unbound
by Walter Olson

“I know from overhearing elected officials chatting among themselves that some of them do yearn to loosen the tight grip that they believe the electoral process currently holds on them. We have to campaign constantly! We have to fundraise constantly! How can they expect us to act like Burke or Disraeli, Daniel Webster or Henry Clay? At least without a nice safe seat. That’s the ticket — more safe seats all round! But if one conceives of the relationship between voters and representatives as one between principals and agents, I am not convinced that the answer is to give the agents more independence from the fear of being fired by their principals.” (11/16/17)


In defense of bargaining and muddling through

Source: Cato Unbound
by Raymond J La Raja

“Olson’s main concern is how gerrymandering entrenches incumbents. By incumbents he means individual officeholders as well as the parties in power. I endorse his broader point even though he overstates his case. Gerrymandering is not necessarily the most significant factor aiding incumbents. Regardless of line-drawing, officeholder advantages emerge from name recognition, cultivating a personal vote, and the ability to raise campaign money easily. To be sure, incumbents try to safeguard their seat through redistricting. However, their self-serving behavior may bump against the collective interests of the party seeking to maximize seats in the legislatures. Incumbents prefer a bipartisan gerrymander that protects incumbents in both parties by increasing the size of their winning coalitions in their respective districts.” (11/13/17)


Building new districts, fairly and cheaply

Source: Cato Unbound
by Michael McDonald

“I’ve been involved in redistricting since the late 1980s. I’ve been on the inside consulting for legislatures and commissions. I’ve been on the outside as an expert witness in litigation challenging adopted maps and working with public interest groups advocating reform. From my experience, I largely agree with Olson’s able synopsis of the available reform and legal options to curb gerrymandering. I’d like to elaborate on one reform pathway in particular that is compatible with the concept of a free market: requiring transparency and public participation.” (11/10/17)


New House bill would kill gerrymandering and could move America away from two-party dominance

Source: The Intercept
by Zaid Jilani

“[T]he winner-take-all, first-past-the-post system means that if you want to vote for a third party, your vote will often be ‘wasted,’ as two parties compete to get the most votes and other votes are considered inconsequential to the outcome. If a candidate wins 40 percent of the vote, while her two opponents get 30 percent each, the first one wins, even though 60 percent of the district voted against her. That dynamic effectively forces political actors to sort themselves into two parties, or risk being boxed out of power entirely. Gerrymandering, combined with the way voters have sorted themselves into cities and rural areas, means that even while Democrats consistently win a majority of votes cast for House candidates, Republicans wind up controlling the House of Representatives regardless. A group of representatives in the House want to change this system, and are introducing legislation to change this system and make America’s federal elections more representative and competitive.” (07/05/17)


Crowdsourced redistricting

Source: Independent Institute
by J Huston McCulloch

“Gerrymandering can easily be kept in check by means of a constitutional requirement that state legislature and Congressional districts be as compact as possible in terms of number of county fragments created and total district perimeter. Here’s how crowdsourcing could be employed to achieve this result entirely through voter input …” (06/21/17)