Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Carving up the districts

The Supreme Court has started its new session and, first out of the gate, is a gerrymandering case.  Politico: "Supreme Court eyes partisan gerrymandering."

I can definitely see both sides of this argument: on the one hand, state legislatures redraw Congressional districts to maximize advantages to their respective parties.  But when you have a splotch of a ketchup stain defining a district, has gerrymandering gotten out of control?  Maybe.

But maybe a better argument is this: the Supreme Court shouldn't be involving itself in a two-century-old practice that is essentially a political fight within a State:
Chief Justice John Roberts, who's known for a desire to safeguard the high court's reputation, was unusually blunt about his concern that opening the door to partisan gerrymandering cases would flood the Supreme Court docket with litigation and drag the justices into a political morass. He said voters will look askance at the notion that districts failed to meet a complex formula that assesses wasted votes and a so-called "efficiency gap."

"You're taking these issues away from democracy and you're throwing them into the courts pursuant to—and it may be simply my educational background, [what] I can only describe as sociological gobbledygook," the chief justice opined. "The intelligent man on the street is going to say, 'That's a bunch of baloney. It must be because the Supreme Court preferred the Democrats over the Republicans.'...That is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country."
Opening the door to gerrymandering cases in Federal Court would politicize the Court as they debate whether a State district should be drawn on one or the other side of the highway.

Extra - SCOTUSBlog adds: "Thirteen years ago, the justices rejected a challenge to Pennsylvania’s redistricting plan, with four justices agreeing that courts should decline to review partisan-gerrymandering claims, because it is too hard to come up with a manageable test to determine when politics plays too influential a role in redistricting." As usual, all eyes on Kennedy again.

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