Monday, February 05, 2018

Justice Alito Denies GOP Appeal of Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Case -This Is A Big Deal [Updated]

The Pennsylvania congressional districts were so badly gerrymandered that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the whole map and required new, fairer districts BEFORE the November 2018 election.

Here's a picture (adapted from an analysis at 538) of what the districts look like:

The basic requirements for districts in Alaska as well as elsewhere are that they be compact and contiguous.  (I've got some charts on what compact and contiguous look like, in this post about questionable Fairbanks districts.) The green one and the trianglish one two below it are the most compact looking ones I see.  Most of the others are stretched and twisted so that they squeeze Democratic voters into as few districts as possible and thus give the rest strong Republican majorities.  Even though the state was pretty evenly divided in votes for Trump and Clinton in 2016, they have 13 Republican Congress members out of 18, due to gerrymandering the districts.

When I talked to the Alaska redistricting board's attorney about political gerrymandering back in 2011-12, he flat out said, there's never been a redistricting map thrown out because of political gerrymandering.  Well, the Pennsylvania court did just that two weeks ago, ordering the legislature to come up with better maps by February 9!  The GOP asked for a stay of that order and this morning Alito (yes, Alito) denied the stay.  The legislature is Republican majority (gerrymandering will do that), but their map has to meet state Supreme Court approval.

About the Feb 9 deadline:  It took the Alaska Redistricting Board almost three years to do its job after the 2010 Census data were received, so three weeks is pretty quick.

From Election Law Blog:
". . . now the Justice [Alito] has denied the request without referring it to the full court.
Failure to refer usually means the Justice has calculated that the other Justices would not be likely to grant a stay. It is very unusual for these measures not to be referred, but I’m guessing Justice Alito knows that if he was not convinced, the chances of getting to five were very small.
. . .
Justice Alito’s denial of the stay in the Pa Congressional redistricting case is a reminder that it is NOT all partisan politics at the Court. If it were, surely J. Alito would have ruled to help Republicans in their Pa House races in 2018."
There's still an appeal over the North Carolina racial gerrymandering decision out there.  And then there's Wisconsin which was argued before the US Supreme Court last October 3.  And there's Maryland where there is a challenge over one Democratic seat.

I'd note that a Washington Post headline on says about the Pennsylvania case:
"Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court just gave Democrats a big win on redistricting"
But that has to be put into context.  The Republicans have had, let's say four gerrymandered seats since the redistricting based on the 2010 census.  There have been three congressional elections since then.  Even if the Democrats pick up four more seats - not guaranteed at all - the Republicans have had those seats all this time.  And no one is going to be punished for this.  So there is no incentive for anyone to not cheat as much as possible after the 2020 census.  And that's true in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.  And it's affect American politics tremendously in favor of Republicans.

[UPDATE Feb 8, 4:30pm:  The Pennsylvania state legislator who represents the ground hog who saw his shadow three days go, Chris Dush, has introduced legislation to impeach the five Supreme Court justices who ruled that the state was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.  Did he think this up himself or did others help him?]

1 comment:


    Dush has been looking for co-sponsors and hasn't gotten any as of yet. The five Justices, btw, are all Democrats. Dems have an advantage in registered voters, but like Wisconsin and some other states, gerrymandering allows one party to claim more seats with many fewer voters.


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