Tags: supreme court | gerrymandering | democrats | republicans

Supreme Court Lets Districts Favor Democrats, Republicans or the People

Supreme Court Lets Districts Favor Democrats, Republicans or the People
Visitors line up outside the U.S. Supreme Court plaza before the court handed down decisions June 18, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The court handed down opinions in five cases, including decisions about sentencing guidelines, gerrymandering and other topics. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 19 June 2018 12:49 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Days before the Supreme Court gerrymandering decisions Monday, I talked in person with the two gerrymandering figures loved by their side and viewed as Enemy No. 1 by the other party — North Carolina Rules Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Eric Holder (President Obama’s attorney general).

The left reviles Lewis for telling a TV reporter the only reason he made 10 of North Carolina’s Congressional Districts Republican is that he could not figure out how to make an 11th GOP district. The right views Holder’s massive fundraising to sue GOP legislatures over gerrymandering as a coordinated extension of Terry McAuliffe’s funding of the wife of FBI's Andrew McCabe leading up to the investigations of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Both said they would have their teams look at the proposals of Take Back Our Republic to find a solution to avoid the dilemma the Supreme Court just avoided of being impaled by either the right horn of partisan districts drawn by the Wisconsin legislature or the left horn of the liberal national groups who would like to carve up Milwaukee to create more Democratic districts.

The vast majority of Americans are fed up and want the FixIt America approach of ending overt gerrymandering and secret political payments that let politicians choose their voters rather than the other way around. The good news is the same computer programs that enabled partisans to draw ridiculous districts that leave voters hours from their “representatives” can just as easily create the districts that revitalize our democracy.

Nate Silver, the numbers guru who was trashed by fellow liberals for continuing to insist Donald Trump could very easily win the presidency, lays out 8 computer models of how districts could be drawn and it is time to insist districts be drawn to force politicians to pay attention to constituents rather than advance one party over the other. Using his map, let’s show the two bad options and the solution that should be advanced as a follow-up to a FixIt America solution of siding with the people over overt partisan politics and incumbent protection that kills our democratic republic.

The focus of each party is to make sure they get at least a 218-217 edge to control Congress.

Right Horn — Partisan GOP Gerrymandering

Using Nate’s Republican program, the GOP could draw districts that — even in a year in which voters shifted Democratic and all swing districts went Democratic — would leave Republicans likely to hold 275 districts, thus holding Congress by an astounding 57 more votes than they needed. Even if the elections were held this past January — when anti-Trump feelings hit their peak and Democrats led by more than 13 points in Nate’s generic ballot — Republicans would have held Congress and not needed to respond or adjust unpopular parts of the agenda that voters did not want.

This would be the goal of the partisans in D.C. who drew the maps for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina (albeit the North Carolina GOP noting that the Democrats stopped all Republican attempts 10 years ago to move to a nonpartisan commission). It is also the goal of the Republicans who brought suit the Maryland suit drawn by Republicans that drew a popular Republican Congressman into an unwinnable district.

Left Horn — Partisan Democratic Gerrymandering

Using Nate’s Democratic program, the Democrats could draw districts that — even in a year in which voters shifted Republican and all swing districts went Republican — would leave Democrats likely to win 263 districts, thus holding Congress by an almost as amazing 45 seats than they needed. Like the example above, Democrats could do almost anything they wanted — the negative reaction to Obamacare in 2010 would have left Democrats with full control of Congress to continue with the agenda.

This is the goal of the ACLU and other partisans who brought the Wisconsin suit not to try to get districts better for voters but rather to argue they wanted districts that would have given the Democrats rather than the Republicans a majority in the past legislative races. It is also the goal of the Democrats who worked to elected a State Supreme Court that then replaced partisan Democratic districts instead of Republican districts — setting a dangerous precedent of both National Parties putting all their money into a few State Supreme Court races to determine who then takes over legislatures.

Voter-Centered Solution

To quote Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, “A pox on both your houses!”

The very Americans who are tired of being pawns in purely partisan plays and giving up on our system need to be the goal of redistricting.

The Supreme Court now has models. Last month three out of four Ohio voters supported a referendum replacing overt gerrymandering with compact districts, and even the newer maps out of North Carolina work toward more compact districts.

The goal should be that voters live as close to their representatives as possible to produce enough of a community within each Congressional District so that voters can choose which Democratic, Republican, third party or independent candidate they want both in a primary and in the general election.

To do this, the Supreme Court can simply rule that computers generate districts that provide the shortest drive time from a voter to other voters and thus the candidates in his district — with an adjustment where ever a district can reasonably be drawn that creates a majority district for any race that exceeds 5 percent of state’s overall population (right now that would include the following races in most states, but might include a Native American or other district in certain states):

2010 Census

Percent

White

63.7

Hispanic or Latino

16.3

Black or African American

12.2

Asian

4.7

Other or 2 or more races

3.1

Total Population

100.0

The “drive time” criteria keeps people as close together as possible but allows for natural boundaries such as water or mountains that tend to divide communities beyond the actual geographic line.

Two of Nate’s models come close to this, with the compact districts leading to this map, and maps maximizing the race diversity of Congress leading to this map.

The Supreme Court could do the country a favor and help us Take Back Our Republic by requiring a model with these parameters and an allowance for a commission (or even legislatures) to move up to a set small percentage of voters for other considerations.

Yes we always had gerrymandering — but it was not until the precision of computers that it reached a point that made people give up on their democracy. Like any technology, these programs are just a tool that also offer the solution that would truly restore our republic.

John Pudner is Executive Director of Takeback.org, a non-profit home for Americans seeking true political reform. Our conservative solutions include: stopping illicit foreign money from impacting elections; ending pay-to-play in government contracting; and restoring the Reagan-era federal tax credit for small-dollar political contributions, which will encourage more citizens to become donors and help re-balance the campaign finance system. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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JohnPudner
Yes we always had gerrymandering — but it was not until the precision of computers that it reached a point that made people give up on their democracy. Like any technology, these programs are just a tool that also offer the solution that would truly restore our republic.
supreme court, gerrymandering, democrats, republicans
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2018-49-19
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 12:49 PM
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