Gerrymandering

In Gerrymandering Ruling, Supreme Court Refuses to Settle Partisan Squabbling Over Fairness

Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear he cares about individual rights, not collective grievances.

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JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/Newscom

In deciding not to decide on two major redistricting cases, the U.S. Supreme Court this week signalled that it would not wade into the fight over partisan gerrymandering—but the justices did leave the door open to revisiting the issue, and perhaps soon.

The high court released two highly anticipated redistricting decisions this week—one challenging a Republican-drawn map in Wisconsin and one challenging a Democrat-drawn map in Maryland. In the Maryland case, the court merely issued a per curiam (unsigned) order sending the matter back to a lower court. In the Wisconsin case (Gill v. Whitford), though, the court ruled the plaintiffs lacked appropriate standing. Despite the lack of a substantive ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts took the opportunity to author a unanimous opinion outlining where the court stands on the question of gerrymandering.

Roberts' opinion makes it clear that a successful challenge to partisan redistricting must rest on the disenfranchisement of individual voters, rather than on the claim that one political party has been harmed.

"It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights," Roberts wrote of the Wisconsin challenge. "This Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences."

The Wisconsin case included four plaintiffs who argued that their votes had been diluted by "the manipulation of district boundaries" in the Republican-drawn state legislative district maps.

One of those plaintiffs, William Whitford, a retired law professor at the University of Wisconsin, admitted that the Republican map had not changed the outcome of the elections in his own legislative districts. He lives in Madison, after all, and it's about as solidly blue a place as you'll find in the Midwest. Instead, he claimed he suffered a harm that extended beyond his own vote and his own legislative districts.

"The only practical way to accomplish my policy objectives is to get a majority of the Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate, ideally in order to get the legislative product I prefer," Whitford told the district court that first heard the case.

This had always been a weakness of the Wisconsin challenge, and the plaintiffs knew it. In similar court cases that successfully challenged racial gerrymanders (an area where federal courts have been more willing to engage, while they've largely avoided political gerrymandering), courts have always focused on the specific harm to voters in specific districts, rather than on statewide unfairness. To make the broader argument, the Wisconsin challenge relied on a metric known as the Efficiency Gap.

The Efficiency Gap was developed, in part, as a response to a previous Supreme Court ruling. In 2004, after hearing a challenge from a group of Pennsylvania Democrats who claimed they were unfairly harmed by a GOP-drawn map, the Supreme Court ruled in Vieth v. Jubelirer that it could not adjudicate claims of political gerrymandering for lack of a "workable standard" for identifying it.

The Efficiency Gap was supposed to solve that problem. As I wrote earlier this year for Reason:

The Efficiency Gap attempts to measure the number of "wasted" votes in each congressional district, defined as any vote for a losing candidate at all and any vote for a winning candidate above and beyond the number needed to secure a victory. The formula attempts to highlight partisan imbalance among all the districts in a state, with the underlying assumption being that districts should be as competitive as possible to reduce the number of "wasted" votes.

Working in its favor is this system's simplicity: No software is needed, just election results and basic math. But there are gaps in the Efficiency Gap. For one, it requires that elections be held before it can be employed. That makes it useful for determining whether districts are fair after they've been drawn and put to use, but it doesn't offer much help for how to go about drawing boundaries to avoid such problems in the first place. For another, the Efficiency Gap relies entirely on election results, which can be misleading. A blowout win in one district means lots of "wasted" votes for the victorious party under the Efficiency Gap model, but that doesn't necessarily mean the map was designed to bring about that outcome. A particularly bad opponent, a national electoral wave, or any number of other factors could give a false positive if the Efficiency Gap is the only metric you're using to decide whether a district is unfair.

In this week's ruling, Roberts blows some serious holes in the idea that the Efficiency Gap can serve as a sort of Holy Grail for redistricting reformers.

"The difficulty for standing purposes is that these calculations are an average measure. They do not address the effect that a gerrymander has on the votes of particular citizens," Roberts writes. "Partisan-asymmetry metrics such as the efficiency gap measure something else entirely: the effect that a gerrymander has on the fortunes of political parties."

That the Supreme Court unanimously backed this anti-partisan view is a welcome sign. That unanimity, though, tells only half the story. While all nine Justices agreed that the Wisconsin plaintiffs did not have standing for a broad challenge, the four liberal justices signed a concurring opinion by Justice Elena Kagan that likely foreshadows the next round of redistricting challenges. Once there is sufficient standing established, Kagan argues, then statewide evidence (such as the Efficiency Gap metric) and a statewide remedy could be on the table.

When gerrymandering inevitably comes back to the Supreme Court, that's where the battlelines will be drawn, says Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.

"There's something I find very satisfying about the fact that the center has held. All of the justices, including the most liberal ones, agree about the role of the Supreme Court," Olson told Reason. But Kagan's concurrence, he says, "preserves as a possibility, at least in their minds, the outcome that the liberals were hoping to get."

There is one other question worth considering: Is gerrymandering a problem the courts should solve? The plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case seemed to think so, calling the Supreme Court "the only institution in the United States" that could solve the problem.

Roberts seems unconvinced. "Such invitations must be answered with care," he wrote. "Failure of political will does not justify unconstitutional remedies."

Indeed, a better solution to America's gerrymandering crisis would be for state legislatures to impose upon themselves—or to impose upon state redistricting commissions, where they are used—some sort of limitation for how much partisan mapmaking is tolerable.

Alternatively, states could move to fully outsource the redistricting process to tech firms capable of creating dozens or hundreds of different maps based on relatively simple sets of parameters—such as requirements that districts score below certain thresholds on different measurements. But it's probably right to be skeptical of the idea that state lawmakers and political parties would give up their ability to influence the redistricting process. These attempts to change the rules of redistricting are just another round of the same game. Beat us in the legislature and we'll beat you in the courts, is the message that Wisconsin Democrats seemed to be telegraphing throughout this process.

But courts should not be involved in giving partisan advantage to one team or the other. Roberts makes this point repeatedly, pointing to the fact that none of the plaintiffs in the case could prove they were directly harmed by the redistricting plan, and choosing to argue instead that they were harmed by how the redistricting plan affected the electoral chances of Wisconsin Democrats in general.

"That is a collective political interest, not an individual legal interest," writes Roberts. "And the Court must be cautious that it does not become a forum for generalized grievances."

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95 responses to “In Gerrymandering Ruling, Supreme Court Refuses to Settle Partisan Squabbling Over Fairness

  1. the justices did leave the door open to revisiting the issue, and perhaps soon.

    *** facepalm ***

    “That is a collective political interest, not an individual legal interest,” writes Roberts.

    Do you *really* want to go down that road, John?

    1. You might want to re-read the decision, Rich. Or even just finish reading the paragraph that you quoted from. Roberts goes on to say that “the Court must be cautious that it does not become a forum for generalized grievances.”

      So, yeah, he really does want to go down the road of saying that Courts are for redressing individual rights and interests and not group interests.

      1. An end to rights for corporations? No more legal initiative for corporate officers on behalf of their corporations, just on behalf of themselves?

        1. Excellent point!

        2. How about an end to rights for unions then? or how about end of rights for PAC’s? How about an end to rights for the Media? How far down that road do you really want to go?

  2. So the plsintiffs in the Wisconsin case were essentially arguing that if Democrats lose the majority of district races, their rights are violated? Did they expect that line of reasoning to only apply to their Party?

    Furthermore, districting to achieve partisan parity for competitive races will require gerrymandering. Most geographically compact districts are not going to split down the middle.

    1. This is a fundamentally non-judicial problem. They just cannot make a ruling about political gerrymandering without creating authority out of thin air. As ridiculous as it sounds, Congress has to pass a law (or even a constitutional amendment) that will be workable.

      I’ll prep for the satanic snowball fight serving airborne bacon first.

    2. Wrong. The argument is that the legislature should reflect the votes of the citizens. If Republicans get more votes, they get control. It should be close to in proportion with the votes. One side should not be consistently disfavored by the district lines.

      If Republicans get more votes, they get more seats than predicted by the vote %.
      If Democrats get more votes, Republicans get more seats than predicted by the vote %.

      Heads I win, Tails Democracy loses.

      1. Except we don’t vote for parties. We vote for people. For example: If all else is equal, and one party runs a corrupt boor who gets 0% of the vote in his district, then the other party will have excess votes for their representatives.

        While such an instance is easy to understand in the extremes and qualitatively, quantification in marginal cases is essentially impossible, especially to the level required in a court of law.

        1. These things tend to balance out. It’s all in the literature.
          Even the worst candidates tend to get most of their party’s votes in a general election. Candidate quality is not a huge predictor in votes compared to partisanship. At the margins, yes, it will affect a few votes. Roy Moore underperformed, Bob Menendez likely will as well. Not enough to affect the efficiency gap in a state legislature.

          1. Bullshit they balance out. In my area, people hate Trump with a passion, and are expected to turn out in large numbers despite Trump not being on the ballot this year. The next county over is Trump country, and the incumbents are all expected to win easily, so voter turnout probably won’t be that great. According to you, Team Blue should get a bunch of extra seats because one locality has high voter intensity?

            1. Not the way efficiency gap works. Turnout isn’t part of the calculation — margin of win is.

              1. Yes but margin of win is greatly affected by which party can get their voters to turn out in the greatest numbers? Also this assumes a 50/50 split of voters for the duopoly, but that is not the case. Voters are really roughtly 30% Dems, 30% Reps, and just under 40% independent. Independents being a compilation of dissatisfied former duopoly voters, switch voters, and various 3rd party voters. That is of course nationally, each district and state has some skewing of these numbers. Also look at any map of how districts voted. It is a massive see of red, with blue spots. In most that sea of Red you will not be able to find enough blues to balance out the Reds. And in those spots of blue you’ll be hard pressed to find enough reds to balance out the blues. It’s logistical issues like this that make the efficiency gap fail as means of drawing the lines.

      2. You are falsely assuming the ideal is for the party representation to match the proportion of votes won by each party. This is not so. Geographical districts exist to ensure *geographical*!representstion as well, so no one city or region dominates state politics. But because there’s not ‘natural’ way to draw districts, ‘gerrymandering’ is inevitable unless we fundamentally revise the way state legislators are elected.

        1. Close, but it is not about one geographical location or city running the state, it is about the people in that district having a geographical commonality. particularly a commonalty with their elected representatives. So one city or group of cities within that district should not dominate the interests of the entire district. They may disagree with their neighbors, but they should not feel that their voice will never be heard by their elected representative because they live on the wrong side of the tracks. Not to say that does not happen however you draw the lines, but ideally that is how the geographical aspect should be.

  3. But there are gaps in the Efficiency Gap. For one, it requires that elections be held before it can be employed. That makes it useful for determining whether districts are fair after they’ve been drawn and put to use, but it doesn’t offer much help for how to go about drawing boundaries to avoid such problems in the first place.

    So you’re saying that “fairness” is a matter of outcomes rather than of process? I can’t say beforehand if the process is fair, we have to wait to see if my candidate wins before I can say that it’s fair? If a district is 65% Democrat that must be an unfair process and not because it’s a well-respected incumbent running against a political novice with some baggage? How is this any different than discrimination lawsuits that claim a disproportionately small representation of women or minorities or gays or whatever is proof of discrimination even if you can’t say what it is exactly about the screening process that leads to this outcome because God knows there’s no possibility that men and women and black people and white people are in any way different in their talents and abilities and interests.

    1. There is that flaw in the analysis that assumes any disparity in the vote is due to purely partisan reasons, rather than any personal preference for (or distaste for the opponent) the candidate running. That is the problem with suggesting that the Party’s rights are being harmed.

      1. How do you get rid of the fact that the intent of modern gerrymandering schemes is to harm party interests?and it works reliably? Again and again. Roberts seems to suggest the Court can’t see what designers of redistricting algorithms can see, and use.


        1. Roberts seems to suggest the Court can’t see what designers of redistricting algorithms can see, and use.

          No, he’s saying that party interests don’t fucking matter. If they did, than California and Texas both would be entirely fucked since they’re effectively one party states and if party interests were compelling the FedGov would be obligated to intervene, would they not?

          1. In California, the legislature reflects the electorate. It’s not whether one party wins. It’s whether the legislature reflects the electorate. The California electorate is strongly Democratic, so the legislature is. The Wisconsin electorate is nearly 50/50, but the legislature is strongly Republican even when they get fewer votes, such as 2012.

            Texas is not a good example, as their gerrymandering split Austin into 6 different districts (of which 5 are Republican) to further dilute the already low Democratic numbers.

            1. Am I to take your hand-waving involving California districts to mean that California is not gerrymandered? Curious. That is not a claim I’ve heard before, so I just wanted to make sure that was your intent.

              1. Independent commissions. Generally acknowledged not be gerrymandered. Very low on the efficiency gap.

              2. In 2016, the districting in California benefited the Republicans by one point.

      2. The question was not disparity in the vote. The question was disparity in the seats won versus the votes that were cast.

        1. And gives no consideration to the actual people that ran.

          1. The people who ran mattered for who got the votes.

            However, the makeup of the legislature no longer reflects who got the votes.

    2. I would say it’s not just “partisan squabbling over fairness”, it’s a whole different philosophy of what “fairness” means. If Lebron James and I agree to a little one-on-one game of basketball, is it a fair game? I’d say as long as we’re both following the same rules, it’s a fair game. Sure, he’s going to stomp me because he’s a million times better at basketball than me, but if you want to say that’s unfair, take it up with God. If you want to make the game more “fair” by handicapping him, anything that results in other than a tie game is proof you either handicapped him too much or not enough and if the only result you’ll accept is a tie game then what the hell’s the point of even playing the game? “Fairness” is equal opportunity, not equal outcomes and I had just as much a chance of being born a gifted athlete as Lebron did. It’s not like he was ahead of me in line when God was handing out talents and he unfairly hogged all the basketball skills.

      1. Harrison Bergeron
        This and The Lottery really ought to be taught in schools. In my youth, The Lottery, at least, was.

      2. if the only result you’ll accept is a tie game…

        …then go play soccer instead.

        1. I lol’ed, nice one CA.

      3. The problem is that the district lines were drawn to provide a handicap. Wisconsin is nearly 50/50 divided by voters, but the legislature is dominated by Republicans way out of line with their vote count.

        It’s like the Warriors versus the Rockets, but the 3 point line for the Warriors is 10 feet from the basket and the Rockets three point line is at half court.

      4. I think the challenge is trying to identify when a district has been gerrymandered to put everyone over 6-5 on one basketball team, and everyone under 5-5 on the other.

        The injustice isn’t in the one on one game, the injustice is in gaming the system.

        I think the challenge is that we can often imagine cases where gerrymandering is wrong, but it’s hard to prove in reality.

        For example, is it bad to put all the blacks in one district where they can’t influence the other districts? Or is that good, because it ensures a black representative? Perhaps we agree it is bad to divide them all up so that they can’t have a black rep? But then they can become a swing vote in multiple districts, and might therefore have MORE political power than they would otherwise have.

        1. In 2012, Democrats received more votes than Republicans, but the Republicans got over 60% of the seats. The legislature was not representative of the votes cast.

          1. Republicans won 53.7% of the US house.

            1. I was talking about the Wisconsin House. Democrats got a majority of the votes and less than 40% of the seats.

              1. Voter intensity was strong in Madison and other urban areas because Obama. Yawn.

                1. “Although Wisconsin’s natural political geography plays some role in the apportionment process, it simply does not explain adequately the sizeable disparate effect seen in 2012 and 2014 under Act 43.”

                  Bullshit.

                  That cannot explain how a party that got a minority of the votes got a supermajority of the legislature.

          2. It was in terms of geography, just not in terms of party. Step 1 is realizing that geographical and party representstion are in tension with each other, instead of pretending there is some magically neutral way to draw district boundaries based on something as fickle as a so called efficiency gap.

            1. From Gill v Whitford:
              “Although Wisconsin’s natural political geography plays some role in the apportionment process, it simply does not explain adequately the sizeable disparate effect seen in 2012 and 2014 under Act 43.”

              This was not a question of geography. It was a question of a conscious plan to eliminate the electorate from consideration.

  4. “Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear he cares about individual rights, not collective grievances”

    He’s a terrible woketarian

    1. He also said it is a tax, and then not a tax


  5. There is one other question worth considering: Is gerrymandering a problem the courts should solve?

    Considering that it’s literally the job of the legislature, it seems the obvious answer would be ‘no’.

    1. The logic of this statement is that legislatures can never pass unconstitutional laws.

      1. Keep in mind that partisan political gerrymandering is not necessarily unconstitutional.

        1. Seems like that’s up to Justice Kennedy and whatever his navel tells him on the relevant day.

          1. Is that supposed to be better, or worse, than whatever the hell congress cooks up?

          2. I suppose if Kennedy told you Napoleon was a Polynesian lesbian your theory of hermeneutics would compel you to begrudgingly accept it as fact.

      2. I’m not sure how citing the actual job of the courts is relevant to a discussion of the actual job of the legislature, but ok.

        ‘Gerrymandering’ is simply the derogatory word used to describe a process that’s actually called redistricting which is literally the job of the legislature. Courts do not have the authority, or should not have the authority, to tell the legislature how to do a job that falls fully within their authority. There is no constitutional issue, as it’s left to the state legislatures. Now, the state constitution might have something to say about it but you’d have to be a little more specific.

        I don’t care if it’s a democratic gerrymander or a republican gerrymander, and I actually happen to agree with the SC that actual harm to individual voters would need to be proven as a baseline in order to rule about it one way or another.

        1. I’m for the court inventing a new constitutional right if it means stopping Republicans from stealing the country from its people as they are obviously intent on doing. If legislatures, one after another including the US Congress, are stocked with people only a minority of voters actually want there, then it’s not a good system, and a defense that amounts to “but we’re stuck with it” is no defense at all when courts are perfectly capable of finding unconstitutionality in such schemes, just as they have with race-based gerrymandering.

          1. You’re a damn fool. The Court is not, or should not, be granted the power to ‘invent’ new rights. You’re mistaking them for Congress. Again.

            You should really think long and hard about taking a civics class. If you’ve taken one, I highly recommend paying attention the second time around.

            1. Also, rights already exist and are merely protected from interference via constitutions. You even have the baseline notion of rights incorrect, but you’re not alone in thinking of rights as positive rights granted by the government. It’s backwards, but common among fools.

              1. You shouldn’t be lecturing anyone about civics. Even positive rights aren’t granted by the government. They are granted by the sovereign. As are negative rights. The only exceptions are imaginary rights, which folks grant to themselves, and then demand that others enforce.

            2. Are you saying that if a right isn’t explicitly in the Constitution, that we can infer that it is not a protected right?

              1. No, I do not agree with the notion of positive rights but that also does not mean that the court can simply pull other rights out of thin air either. Especially when it directly relates to enumerated powers explicitly given to Congress.

          2. Whatever reinterpretation of the law will get your cult in office and allow it to punish its enemies, eh?

        2. The notion that political schemers can identify my politics, and the politics of people like me, and draw districts to make sure we can’t concert our efforts to get outcomes we prefer?it’s mysterious to me why that doesn’t harm me personally. Can you explain why I am not harmed if that happens?

          1. You appear to be ascribing a high level of competency to the legislature in determining either your politics or your affiliation. Considering the percentage of people who actually vote, in any district it’s more likely than not that the majority of eligible voters do not vote.

            There is a massive flaw in the notion of gerrymandering itself, in that lines are being drawn based upon who actually votes rather than the actual voting eligible populace. I also see little evidence that legislatures are competent in any area, so to presume hyper-competency in this one area seems to be born of irrational fear.

            1. Nah, it’s born of ample experience. With both parties.

              More generally, even dullards do surprisingly well when the subject is one they care about deeply, and monitor constantly. Deep caring and constant monitoring of stuff that pertains to self-interest is kind of a signature of dullards, actually.

  6. Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear he cares about individual rights, not collective grievances.

    Fist time for everything, I guess.

    1. I really wouldn’t want any fist time with Justice Roberts.

  7. This new push against gerrymandering is only happening because the Ds are losing. They want a court solution to counter their failure at the ballot box. Until they start winning again at the state level and solve their demographic clustering problem, the courts are their only recourse.

    1. Pretty much this. Democrats are playing a different game that doesn’t actually reflect a winning strategy in the game that’s actually being played.

    2. Um, “their failure at the ballot box,” seems kind of misplaced, when what’s happening is use of minority political power to make sure majorities lose.

      1. Which is a perfect example of facts that are not in evidence, as the majority of voters don’t vote in either direction.

        Are you in favor of pure democracy as a method of governing, yes or no? The answer will reveal much of your political understanding.

        1. If they don’t vote, then they aren’t voters.

          1. Excuse me, I forget we’re all pedants around here. ‘Eligible voters’ then, who’s affiliation and potential voting habits are entirely unknown.

            This also, of course, assumes that those people who do vote are always the same people. They are not, even while many of them are.

            1. There is a large body of research that shows how this works. On average, votes shift together. Some people vote or don’t vote, some people switch their votes, but on average, it is predictable. You can predict approximately the vote per district or county based on an environment that is, for example, +4 for the Democrats. In that environment, they win 39/99 seats in the Legislature (because that’s what happened in 2012).

              If it didn’t work so well, they wouldn’t do it.

              1. Didn’t these same researchers tell us Hilary was a lock?

    3. Not true, people have been fighting for centuries over it. However, it’s only in recent elections has it become the overwhelming influence that is now. It’s gone from an annoying people to a fucking cancerous tumor that needs to be cut out.

  8. Gerrymandering is bad but so far, almost every proposed solution that’s been suggested is worse. Often, far worse.

    The “efficiency gap” in particular is an idea that needs to die, get buried, covered in concrete and the ground salted for a mile around. That was a horrible proposal that, if we’re ever stupid enough to implement it, will do much more harm than good.

    1. almost none of the proposed fixes are not an improvement over allowing the party in power to steer districts to always be to their advange and let states with a 55/45 split end up with a 90/10 split on representatives in congress.

  9. These arguments for the Efficiency Gap all assume that the goal of redistricting is (or should be) to create competitive districts. When/where was that established?

    1. By necessity, what is competitive will be defined as being between the two major parties.

    2. Wrong. The efficiency gap assumes that the legislature should reflect the votes of the citizenry. If team A gets more votes, they should get more seats.

      1. No, because it’s defined on a district by district basis.

        If a state is 6 districts of 100% Democrats and 6 of Republicans, the legislature would perfectly reflect the citizenry but the efficiency gap would be maximized.

        You’d then have to shift your analysis to the primaries and measure the impact of the districts on subgroups of Dems and Reps (and third parties).

        1. I assume you are saying that there are 6 districts of 100% Democrats and 6 of 100% Republicans. Assuming equal district size, there is zero efficiency gap. The “wasted votes” described as every vote over 50% for the winner plus every vote for the loser is equal, 1.5 districts worth for each party. Subtract, and you end up with zero.

          Maximum gap would be one district with 100% and 11 with 45%. That party would have 50%+11*45%=545% wasted votes, the other would have 5*11%=55% wasted votes, for a gap of 490% (the percentages are of the population of 1 district). That would end up with a legislature of 11-1 in an evenly divided state. Would that be legal?

        2. Alternate scenario: A state with 10 districts. Math is easier. A party represents 36% of the population.
          Draw six districts that are each 60% of that party. The other four are 100% opposition. The party that has the strength of the California Republicans has a majority of seats. That majority is durable even if they lose 5% in each district.

          Legal?

    3. It’s axiomatic and self obvious from the goal of having a Republic and Representative Democracy and any sense of fairness and “one man, one vote” principal. Anyone who denies that doesn’t have a whit of a sense of fairness and/or mathematical ability.

  10. This is proof where none was really needed that the Roberts Court is the most politically partisan ever. All arguments to the contrary founder when you look at the outcomes of those cases which are actually about the political process. Can anyone point to even one case among those with an outcome which did not favor Republicans? Can anyone name any previous court which even considered so many cases about the practice of politics?

    Keep this up, and when a wave election finally favors Democrats, no one should be surprised if they activate, for the first time in history, the Article 3 power which gives Congress power to strip the Supreme Court of appellate jurisdiction on particular subject matter.

    It’s a dangerous road Roberts leads the nation down. He invites an endless round of tit for tat politicization of the justice system, tending always toward more grotesque extremes.

    1. Are you extrapolating from the observation that the party currently in power is not using the courts to redress its grievances?

      Isn’t that a tautology?

    2. Are you senile? If Roberts were really partisan the ACA would’ve have survived long enough to be implemented.

      Also, did you not notice that all 4 of the leftist judges voted with Roberts here?

  11. ‘”The only practical way to accomplish my policy objectives is to get a majority of the Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate, ideally in order to get the legislative product I prefer,” Whitford told the district court that first heard the case.’

    In other words, it’s like every policy objective everywhere?

    Gee, where’s my violin?

    1. …he explained showing his injury in the case. Even though his personal representation in the legislature was not affected, he was injured because the maps prevented his preferences from being enacted even if they got more votes.

      1. Which, of course, is only a winning electoral strategy if you are in a democracy. Notably, we do not live in a democracy, and raw number of votes is not the finish line.

        If I’m playing football, for example, should the person who throws the football out of the field win a homerun?

        1. Yes, we are a democracy.

          Even in a republic, the makeup of the government should reflect the electorate. A party that wins the most votes in an election should not get less than 40% of the seats.

        2. In this country, it is understood that if you convince the majority of your fellow citizens to vote alongside you, you can gain representation in the government and see your priorities passed into law. In Wisconsin, that is not the case.

          1. Which districts did Dems get more votes in and still lose the election?

            I’m waiting.

            1. The state as a whole.
              The makeup of the legislature is not responsive to the vote.
              http://urbanmilwaukee.com/wp-c…..ge00-3.png

              For similar vote numbers, Republicans consistently get ~25 seats more than Democrats would. This is not explained by georgraphy, candidates, turnout, or any other reason. Those were all argued in the court case, and they were shot down.

              It was a conscious effort to gerrymander the legislature to ensure power regardless of elections. You can argue that you’re fine with that, but you can’t argue that it isn’t happening. You can have your opinions, but you can’t have your own facts.

      2. And that’s a retarded argument. Someone who votes like you being prevented from voting doesn’t render any injury upon you.

        Oh, I forgot, it violates your sacred right to see your progrsssive policies realized in governmrnt. The secret amendment no one ever talks about.

  12. Reason’s oh-so-principled position on gerrymandering: it’s awesome when the democrats and/or leftist judges do it, and awful when republicans do it.

    1. Gerrymanding is fucking retarded no matter which party does it. That’s Reason’s stance, and it’s a laudable one.

  13. Rubbish! Roberts cares not one whit about individual rights.

    What he cares about is using court-created rules and procedures to prevent “just people” from enforcing many constitutional provisions.

    It’s called “standing,” and it is a creation of the court to prevent citizens from holding government officials to the requirements of the constitution.

    John Roberts is no friend of individual rights, but a protector of the arbitrary power of the court.

  14. In similar court cases that successfully challenged racial gerrymanders (an area where federal courts have been more willing to engage, while they’ve largely avoided political gerrymandering), courts have always focused on the specific harm to voters in specific districts, rather than on statewide unfairness.

    As long as standing is only granted to individuals on the basis of specific harm, things can only get worse.

    Gerrymandering IS an issue of statewide unfairness. And it IS potentially (and we’ve gone way beyond potentially) a violation of ‘The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government’.

    If people are not represented and cannot be represented in their govt – because legislators are effectively choosing their constituents rather than constituents choosing their legislators; then how is that NOT a de facto violation of that clause. It elevates incumbent dynasty over election (how different is that really from monarchy?). It violates the basic notion of representation which is that representation drives the form of govt rather than govt driving the form of representation.

    And for the federal courts to abdicate and leave the interpretation of that clause to Congress is fucking insane since the US Congress is now the 2nd LEAST representative legislative institution IN THE WORLD. And the only one that is less representative (India) is explicitly constrained to be less representative.

    1. Personally my issue goes way beyond gerrymandering – to the size of the legislature itself. And has nothing at all to do with D’s or R’s

      Where we citizens are being stripped of representation over time by legislatures that are protecting their own incumbents by remaining fixed size – and the courts are essentially saying to citizens FYTW.

  15. Sounds to me like the judges don’t know how averages and math work. If you improve the average representation of a voter and make it more egalitarian then it does indeed help out the individual voter. Their arguments are inane and just goes to show you that even lifelong guaranteed appointments aren’t enough to keep them from being cronies for big money that seeks to keep the status quo and unfair districting.

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