A Tiny Light?

January 10, 2018 By: El Jefe Category: gerrymandering


For the first time EVER, a federal court has struck down a state redistricting plan as being unconstitutional because it was a partisan gerrymander purely for political advantage.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued the ruling yesterday calling the North Carolina plan a violation of the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection.  More important, the ruling was unanimous.  In a blazing 191 page opinion, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. said the Republican plan was “motivated by invidious partisan intent” designed to advantage Republicans over Democrats in a permanent unfixable majority.  Case in point, in the 2016 election, the vote for House seats split 53-47 Republican to Democrat, but seats were won 10-3.  So, a 6% advantage turned into 77% control. Judge Wynn also cited the Republican representative who drew the map saying:

“Rather than seeking to advance any democratic or constitutional interest, the state legislator responsible for drawing the 2016 Plan said he drew the map to advantage Republican candidates because he ‘think[s] electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.’ But that is not a choice the Constitution allows legislative mapdrawers to make. Rather, “the core principle of [our] republican government [is] that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

Boom.

Looking at the North Carolina map (and many others, like Texas) one with a functioning pair of eyes and at least a teaspoon of common sense would call those maps unfair.  The Supreme Court has tried for decades to avoid ruling on gerrymandering, and has even ruled that partisan gerrymandering is OK, but recent extreme examples like North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas has brought the issue to forefront once again, and the courts are finally starting to come out of their collective judicial comas.  Computer based algorithms allow mapdrawers to slice and dice neighborhoods in ways never dreamed possible in years past.  The Supreme Court has turned a blind eye and has allowed gerrymandering to become a terminal cancer on democracy if it’s not stopped.  It degrades confidence in the system and drives radical partisanship.  If anyone doubts that, look up idiots like Louie Gohmert, Blake Farenthold, Sheila Jackson Lee, John Culberson and many others.  Over 90% of House seats are uncompetitive.  Because of gerrymandering, representatives answer to a minority base to the detriment of all other constituents.  They rake in money while being grossly negligent of their Constitutional duties.

Enough of this is enough.  Perhaps this ruling will finally force the Supreme Court to stop radical gerrymandering and drive the states to pass non-partisan redistricting commissions.  It’s long past time that we take redistricting out of the hands of those who are advantaged by their corruption and put into the hands of those who are supposed to be served.

 

The Cancer That’s Killing Democracy

March 12, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: gerrymandering

ger·ry·man·der
ˈjerēˌmandər
verb
gerund or present participle: gerrymandering
  1. manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

Gerrymandering has been blood sport in the US almost since the founding where partisans established districts that favored one party over another.  Both sides did it for decades up until computer modeling raised it to an art form in the early 2000s.

Starting in 2002, pushed by good ol’ Tom Delay, Texas Republicans rammed through a mid-decade redistricting that turned state politics on its head to take control of the state house and delegation to Washington.  The result has been a slow death spiral of our state by almost every measure causing declines in education, health care, and infrastructure lead by screwballs like Louie Gohmert, Dan Patrick, and Blake Farenthold.

To make matters worse, Republicans, knowing that their constituency of white angry people is aging and shrinking, have continued to tighten their grip to maintain power as the demographics of Texas push them into the minority.  When they yet again gerrymandered Texas districts in 2011, using computer technology and a technique called “packing and cracking”, people who tend to vote Democratic were either packed into small districts or spread out so much that their votes didn’t count.  These techniques discriminate against not only white Democrats, but disproportionately affect Hispanics and African Americans.

Friday, the story began to change when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the redistricting plan of 2011 saying,

“The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage.”

The court also noted the “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities.”  Finally, a federal court has spoken the truth about those who lead Texas – that they’re racists.  The record of open hostility to minorities convinced the majority that this wasn’t just simple gerrymandering, which is bad enough, but actually a strategy to keep the votes of racial minorities from counting.

This judgment will very likely end up in an appeal to the Supreme Court.  In the meantime, Texas has to go back to the drawing board.  It’s about time.

 

 

North Carolina No Longer a Democracy

December 23, 2016 By: El Jefe Category: 2016 Election

North Carolina, after passing it’s radical gerrymandering plan and repressive voting regulations designed to make it harder to vote, has now been rated by the Electoral Integrity Project as comparable to Cuba, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia.  It’s legal framework and registration restrictions position the state comparable to Venezuela and Iran.  Looking at all the relevant measures, North Carolina can no longer be considered a real democracy.  Welcome to the new “normal”.

Finally – A Federal Court Finds Partisan Gerrymandering Unconstitutional

November 22, 2016 By: El Jefe Category: gerrymandering

In a 2-to-1 ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin said that the Legislature’s remapping in 2011 violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it aimed to deprive Democratic voters of their right to be represented.  Finally, a court has been brave enough to take on gerrymandering, and Wisconsin was a good place to start.

The court used a simple mathematical calculation to measure gerrymandering called (more…)