Word of the day

There are 4 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Rice.


  • <p><strong>Gerrymandering</strong></p>
    <p>I always thought this was an odd word until I looked it up.</p>
    <p>A certain Mr Gerry and a salamander brought this about in 1812.</p>
    <p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering</a><br></p>


    This is why I don't think the US has a solid democratic voting system. Not all Americans matter the same when they vote.


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  • This is why I don't think the US has a solid democratic voting system. Not all Americans matter the same when they vote.

    Gerrymandering is a complete abuse of power, as a state's dominant political party takes advantage of their (sometimes short-lived) majority and re-draws voting districts to maximize their influence. This is one of the ways politicians can win without actually having the most votes.


    The US Supreme Court is finally hearing cases of gerrymandering, and ruling that districts be redrawn to fit logical geographical divisions rather than political leanings. For the first time, perhaps they are starting to realize that elections should reflect the actual will of the people. Novel thought!

  • The US Supreme Court is finally hearing cases of gerrymandering, and ruling that districts be redrawn to fit logical geographical divisions rather than political leanings. For the first time, perhaps they are starting to realize that elections should reflect the actual will of the people. Novel thought!

    Not "finally." The courts have been deciding these cases throughout the 20th century. They're difficult because there are many legitimate reasons to redistrict (often legally mandated), so separating legal from illegal is challenging. Some are no-brainers, such as many in the US South meant to dilute the voting power of African-Americans in the '60's and beyond, but most are much more subtle. To complicate things, many so-called gerrymandering challenges are sour grapes from those who lose political advantage after legal, appropriate redistricting.


    From the full Wiki article:


    "Various constitutional and statutory provisions may compel a court to strike down a gerrymandered redistricting plan. At the federal level, the Supreme Court has held that if a jurisdiction’s redistricting plan violates the Equal Protection Clause or Voting Rights Act of 1965, a federal court must order the jurisdiction to propose a new redistricting plan that remedies the gerrymandering. If the jurisdiction fails to propose a new redistricting plan, or its proposed redistricting plan continues to violate the law, then the court itself must draw a redistricting plan that cures the violation and use its equitable powers to impose the plan on the jurisdiction.[11]:1058[30]:540

    In the Supreme Court case of Karcher v. Daggett (1983),[31] a New Jersey redistricting plan was overturned when it was found to be unconstitutional by violating the constitutional principle of one person, one vote. Despite the state claiming its unequal redistricting was done to preserve minority voting power, the court found no evidence to support this and deemed the redistricting unconstitutional.[32]

    At the state level, state courts may order or impose redistricting plans on jurisdictions where redistricting legislation prohibits gerrymandering. For example, in 2010 Florida adopted two state constitutional amendments that prohibit the Florida Legislature from drawing redistricting plans that favor or disfavor any political party or incumbent."


    Nothing is new here, and it's really a good example of how an open society deals with complex political issues.

  • Nothing new here? I do believe that things are changing.

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    December 15, 2017

    • hasen16

    By Richard L. Hasen
    Los Angeles Times

    LOS ANGELES: Is the Supreme Court about to cause great political upheaval by getting into the business of policing the worst partisan gerrymanders? Signs from last week suggest that it well might.

    At the very beginning of its term back in October, the court heard oral arguments in Gill vs. Whitford, a case challenging Wisconsin’s plan for drawing districts for its state Assembly. Republican legislators drew the lines to give them a great advantage in these elections. Even when Democrats won more than a majority of votes cast in the Assembly elections, Republicans controlled about 60 percent of the seats.

    The court has for many years refused to police such gerrymandering. Conservative justices suggested that the question was “nonjusticiable” (meaning the cases could not be heard by the courts) because there were no permissible standards for determining when partisanship in drawing district lines went too far. Liberals came forward with a variety of tests. And Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stood in the middle, as he often does. He argued that all the tests liberals proposed didn’t work, while trying to keep the courthouse door open for new tests...."

    (https://www.ohio.com/akron/edi…e-partisan-gerrymandering)


    From the Christian Science Monitor:

    OCTOBER 3, 2017 Unlike with racial gerrymandering, the US Supreme Court has been reluctant to confront partisan gerrymandering in recent years. Not only is partisan gerrymandering perfectly legal to some degree – making it difficult to judge when it becomes unlawful – but the justices are also traditionally reluctant to get too involved in politics, particularly local politics.

    “They really feel like they’re not well situated to decide whether the line should be drawn here or on the other side of [a town’s] park,” says Michael Li, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

    Every 10 years after a new Census is released, state legislatures redraw their voting district maps. The process is inherently political, with the majority party in the legislature controlling the process in 28 states (other states use independent commissions). In most states, redistricting has to meet specific criteria, including compactness, the preservation of counties and other political subdivisions, and the preservation of the cores of the old districts.

    Today, however, the court heard arguments about whether that process can cross constitutional boundaries. The case, Gill v. Whitford, concerns the alleged partisan gerrymandering of state Assembly districts in Wisconsin.

    With technological improvements making gerrymandering easier than ever, and a new Census on the horizon, critics of the practice say the court has to act now to place boundaries on it.

    Since the case focuses on “extreme” partisan gerrymandering, locking in political majorities for multiple election cycles, it may be easier for the justices to avoid a sweeping opinion, some experts say. But perhaps more important, the technological advances that have enabled this kind of surgically precise remapping of voting districts – the same big data used by political campaigns to target likely voters – is only expected to get more advanced.

    “There’s a real concern that if the court doesn’t step in, people both will have the tools to do it and have a signal from the court that [it won’t] stop them,” says Mr. Li. “They’ll know there’s no policeman on the block, and they’ll also have real robust tools to break into people’s houses.”

    In the 2012 election, Republicans won 47 percent of the vote but 60 of 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly. Two years later, they won 57 percent of the vote and 63 seats in the Assembly. Two years after that their popular vote tally dropped to about 53 percent but they took 64 Assembly seats.


    Wisconsin: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/…p-partisan-gerrymandering


    Arizona: https://www.rt.com/usa/270538-…redistricting-commission/


    Pennsylvania:. http://www.mcall.com/news/nati…cting-20180205-story.html


    North Carolina: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06…gerrymandering/index.html


    Texas: http://www.chicagotribune.com/…s-tax-20180112-story.html