Tag Archives: gerrymandering

SCOTUS to review partisan gerrymandering in Whitford v. Gill

I gave you the background on this case earlier this year. Whitford v. Gill: Partisan gerrymandering case before SCOTUS.

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted review of this case in its next term, while also staying the lower court’s order requiring new maps be put on hold until they can resolve the state’s appeal.

This case has the potential to be a landmark opinion, for good or for bad, depending upon how the court rules.

We currently have a system in which the voters do not choose their elected representatives; elected representatives choose their voters through partisan gerrymandering, which can be done with mathematical precision to ensure “safe” districts. This destroys any notion of competitive elections in a democratic society. It is the way in which elections truly are “rigged.”

Amy Howe at SCOTUS blog explains, Today’s orders: Court to tackle partisan gerrymandering:

The Supreme Court will once again wade into the world of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. The justices announced today that they will review Wisconsin’s appeal of the decision by a three-judge district court striking down, as the product of partisan gerrymandering, the redistricting map that the Republican-controlled legislature created after the 2010 census. The lower court also ordered the state to create a new redistricting plan by the fall, but a deeply divided Supreme Court today put that order on hold. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the case, which is likely to come next year, will almost certainly be a major one that could affect redistricting efforts for decades to come.

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Texas racial gerrymandering, Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering headed to SCOTUS

Slate has a good summary of the decision of the federal district court for Texas on Thursday that, once again, struck down the district lines drawn by the Texas legislature for intentional racial discrimination. Federal Court: Texas Intentionally Gerrymandered Its Districts to Dilute Minority Votes:

On Thursday, a three-judge federal court ruled that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing its state House district map in 2011. The decision follows a similar ruling by the same court in March holding that Texas also drew its federal congressional districts in an effort to dilute minority votes. Thursday’s ruling marks the third time in recent weeks that the federal judiciary has found Texas to have intentionally burdened its Hispanic voters.

The majority attached a 151-page findings of fact to its already lengthy opinion, reflecting careful analysis of Texas’ gerrymander that will be difficult for the Supreme Court to ignore on appeal. In short, the court found that Texas legislators drew multiple House districts that diluted Hispanics’ votes, a violation of both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court also found that the legislature had engaged in race-based gerrymandering, which similarly runs afoul of equal protection and the VRA. Finally, the court concluded that the House map violated the one person, one vote principle by creating districts within unequal populations, another Equal Protection infringement.

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Whitford v. Gill: Partisan gerrymandering case before SCOTUS

John Oliver on his “Last Week Tonight”show Sunday night did a segment on Gerrymandering (video) that, while informative and funny, barely mentioned towards the end of the segment what may become a landmark case in the next term of the U.S. Supreme Court (unless affirmed) from the state of Wisconsin, Whitford v. Gill (No. 16-1161).

It’s time to get up to speed on this pending case.

Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog explains the posture of this case, The WI Gerrymandering Case and the Costs of Mandatory Jurisdiction:

The 2-1 federal court decision striking down Wisconsin’s redistricting plans for the state legislature as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, Whitford v. Gill, is without doubt the most significant lower federal court decision on partisan gerrymandering the lower courts have ever issued. The case will also come to the Court in the Supreme Court’s mandatory, appellate jurisdiction — which now exists only for a tiny sliver of cases, including challenges to statewide redistricting plans.

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Florida federal district court rules prison-based gerrymandering is unconstitutional

I posted about prison-based gerrymandering during the Arizona redistricting hearings back in 2011. See, Prison-based gerrymandering of districts, (Update) Prison-based gerrymandering of districts, and (Update) Prison-based gerrymandering of districts.

This is particularly important in counties that have large prison populations of felony prisoners who have been disenfranchised of the right to vote, like Pinal County.

prison2In practice, prison populations would be counted for purposes of equal apportionment of “residents” per district, but because disenfranchised prisoners no longer possess the right to vote in Arizona, only a small number of eligible voter residents living in a prison district may actually vote.  This is similar to Evenwel v. Abbott, a Texas case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which asserts the claim that counting large numbers of ineligible voters (e.g., undocumented immigrants) dilutes the voting power of its residents.

Today the Federal District Court for Florida’s Northern District ruled that such prison-based gerrymandering unconstitutionally dilutes the voting power of its residents. BREAKING: Federal Court Rules Prison Gerrymandering Unconstitutional:

The Federal District Court for Florida’s Northern District ruled Monday that the prison gerrymandering in Florida’s Jefferson County unconstitutionally dilutes the voting power of its residents. By packing inmates who can’t vote into a district, but counting them when drawing electoral maps, District Judge Mark Walker said the county had violated the “one person, one vote” principle in the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

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Pundits discuss what Democrats must do at the state level

There appears to be a trend developing among liberal progressive pundits.

Steve Benen today looks at Tuesday’s election results and notes, Democrats struggle with the down-ballot blues :

2014.unified.govRepublican strategist Rory Cooper published a tweet that included some eye-opening data this morning. It quickly received widespread attention, which was well deserved.

“Under President Obama, Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats. That’s some legacy.”

I’ll confess I haven’t fact-checked each of the specific data points, but roughly speaking, Cooper’s tally sounds about right. I think the suggestion that President Obama is responsible for the losses is largely misplaced, but quantitatively, the figures paint a damning, accurate picture.

And it’s assessments like these that have led to all kinds of commentary, especially on the heels of yesterday’s election results, about the Democratic Party’s deep rooted, institutional-level challenges. The critiques are hard to avoid and they ring true: the party’s problems at the state level have reached crisis levels; the party has no credible farm team to cultivate future gains; there’s an entire region in which the party finds it difficult to run competitive statewide campaigns; etc.

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Gerrymandering kept Republicans in charge of US House

Teabag01-alt2-sm72-178x300by Pamela Powers Hannley

We here are Blog for Arizona have been beating the drum for election reform continuously for several weeks (12345678, 9,10, 11)– long before our state was disgraced last week with 600,000+ uncounted ballots.

In the election integrity arena, one thing that Arizona has done right– despite the Arizona Legislature– is to vote for, support, and fight for an INDEPENDENT Redistricting Commission. Redistricting every 10 years, based upon the latest US census, is mandated by the US Constitution. In most states, the state legislatures draw the maps– thus ensuring that whichever party is in power says in power for 10 years– thanks to gerrymandering.

Arizonans passed the law forming the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) before the redistricting related to the 2000 census, but Republicans successfully blocked independent redistricting in the courts for years. (This is how a purple state like Arizona came to be controlled by scoundrels like Governor Jan Brewer and former State Senate President Russell Pearce.)

After the 2010 census, a new AIRC was formed with two Democrats, two Republicans, and one Independent. You'll remember that Brewer, Pearce, and the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature (also known as the forces of darkness) tried to block the AIRC at several junctures– including firing the head of the commission in late 2011 and attempting multiple legal shinanigans to stop reform… unsuccessfully. Thanks to redistricting and a strong showing by President Barack Obama and other Democrats, Arizona Democrats gained a significant number of seats in both the Arizona House and Senate. (And we were able to get rid of some real rotten apples like Pearce, Lori Klein, Ben Quayle, and Frank Antenori.)

Unfortunately, the vase majority of states have the old system in which partisan state legislatures draw the lines. Who swept into power across the US in the 2010 elections? Teapublicans. Who drew the new legislative and Congressional districts in most states? Teapublicans.

Why should you care? Because gerrymandering by Teapublicans helped those same Teapublicans retain contorl of the US House of Representatives in the 2012 elections. Despite an historic win by Obama, Democratic gains in the US Senate, and more Democratic votes in House races, gerrymandering enabled "Just say no" Teapublicans to control the US House and the budgetary purse strings. For more on this, check out this story in Think Progress: Why Americans Actually Voted for a Democratic House.

Here's a hint to election integrity activists across the country: start a grassroots movement to form independent redistricting… now.