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Gerrymanders



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The New Republic has an editorial blasting the modern practice of gerrymandering. I think it makes sense to say that our traditional tolerance of the practice should be reconsidered in light of modern technology that makes it possible to do it with an unhealthy degree of precision. But I have two nits to pick.

First, carrying on a recent TNR tradition, there’s some hyperbole about the DeLay-engineered redistricting of Texas. Now we’re supposed to believe that he violated some “ancient tradition of redistricting only once per decade.” A court drew the district lines, making minimal changes to the previous decade’s lines, and asked the legislature to draw new ones of its own. It complied. No ancient tradition was broken.

Second, the editors write:

Distressingly, when the Supreme Court looked at DeLay’s plan, it found almost nothing to quibble with, except for the shifting of 100,000 Hispanic voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The justices left open the question of whether a gerrymander could ever be screwy enough to merit judicial intervention. But, if the Texas case didn’t scream out for a rebuke from the courts, what bizarre scheme ever could?

Is there a no-bizarre-schemes provision of the Constitution with which I’m not familiar? If you want the courts to step in, shouldn’t you have at least an alleged legal violation for them to remedy?



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