Maps in Four States Were Ruled Illegal Gerrymanders. They’re Being Used Anyway (1 Viewer)

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    Feb 5, 2020
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    in a van down by the river
    This is why I have no faith in this country anymore

    David Wasserman, who follows congressional redistricting for the Cook Political Report, said that using rejected maps in the four states, which make up nearly 10 percent of the seats in the House, was likely to hand Republicans five to seven House seats that they otherwise would not have won.

    Some election law scholars say they are troubled by the consequences in the long run.

    “We’re seeing a revolution in courts’ willingness to allow elections to go forward under illegal or unconstitutional rules,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the U.C.L.A. School of Law and the director of its Safeguarding Democracy Project, said in an interview. “And that’s creating a situation in which states are getting one free illegal election before they have to change their rules.”

    Behind much of the change is the Supreme Court’s embrace of an informal legal doctrine stating that judges should not order changes in election procedures too close to an actual election. In a 2006 case, Purcell v. Gonzalez, the court refused to stop an Arizona voter ID law from taking effect days before an election because that could “result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.”

    The Purcell principle, as it is called, offers almost no guidance beyond that. But the Supreme Court has significantly broadened its scope in this decade, mostly through rulings on applications that seek emergency relief such as stays of lower court rulings, in which the justices’ reasoning often is cryptic or even unexplained.
    In other words, SCOTUS' response to Alabama...

    Does anyone have a picture of the proposed maps?

    Edit: The new maps, not the congressionally-drawn maps.
    The one-line order reflects that the feelings on the court haven’t changed since June when a 5-4 Supreme Court affirmed a lower court that had ordered the state to redraw its seven-seat congressional map to include a second majority-Black district or “something quite close to it.”…..

    The one-line order: Get the fork out of here with that shirt!
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    Alabama officially has a new congressional map that will increase the power of Black voters in the state, giving them the chance to elect their preferred candidate in at least two of the state’s seven congressional districts in 2024. The decision could help Democrats secure a majority in the US House next year.

    After the US supreme court twice rebuffed Alabama’s request to block drawing an additional district, a three-judge panel chose the new map on Thursday from three proposals offered by Richard Allen, a court-appointed special master. Black voters make up about a quarter of the population in the state, but comprised a majority in just one of the state’s seven congressional districts under the map Republicans adopted.

    The new plan maintains a majority in one of the state’s districts and creates a second district where Black voters make up 48.7% of the population. That percentage is enough to allow Black voters in the district a chance to elect the candidate of their choosing, the special master’s analysis showed.…….

    The supreme court’s conservative majority appeared skeptical on Wednesday that South Carolina Republicans discriminated against Black voters when it redrew one of the state’s congressional districts to make it friendlier to the GOP.

    During two-hours of oral argument on Wednesday, the court’s conservative justices aggressively poked holes in a three-judge panel’s ruling earlier this year finding that Republicans had unlawfully moved around 30,000 Republican voters out of South Carolina’s first congressional district to make it more Republican.

    Chief Justice John Roberts, a key swing vote on the court, seemed unconvinced by the evidence the lower court had accepted, saying at one point the challengers were asking the court to embrace arguments that “would be breaking new ground in our voting rights jurisdprudence”.

    A decision reversing the lower court would leave South Carolina’s map in place in a major win for Republicans, who control six of the state’s seven congressional districts. Meanwhile, requiring the state to redraw the map would likely make its first congressional district, represented by Republican Nancy Mace, more competitive.

    The central question in the case, Alexander v South Carolina Conference of the NAACP, is whether South Carolina Republicans violated the US constitution when they drew new lines for Mace’s district after the 2020 census.

    In order to make it more safely Republican, they added conservative counties to the district and removed 30,000 Black voters in Charleston – 62% of those in the county – into the neighboring district.

    Republicans have defended their actions by saying their goal was political and that they did not consider race when drawing the districts……

    A federal judge has struck down a new electoral map in Galveston county, Texas, in an excoriating ruling that berates the Republican commissioners for committing a “stark and jarring” violation of the Voting Rights Act.

    Judge Jeffrey Brown of the southern district of Texas found that the redistricting map adopted by Galveston’s Republican commissioners in 2021 amounted to an “egregious” discrimination against the county’s Black and Latino residents. It diluted their votes and effectively erased the only district with a majority of Black and Latino people.

    “This is not a typical redistricting case,” the judge wrote in his 157-page ruling. “What happened here was stark and jarring … The enacted plan denies Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect a candidate of their choice.”……

    CNN) — A federal judge on Thursday ordered Georgia to draw new congressional and state legislative maps, ruling that state legislators improperly diluted the political power of Black voters in establishing those boundaries following the 2020 census.

    The ruling by US District Judge Steve Jones could result in Democrats securing an additional seat in the US House from Georgia. Republicans currently hold nine slots in the state’s 14-member congressional delegation.

    The Peach State litigation is among several legal and political fights under way in nearly a dozen states that could determine whether the GOP retains its narrow majority in the US House after next year’s election.

    In his ruling, Jones said Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature had violated the Voting Rights Act, the nation’s landmark civil rights law, in establishing district lines.

    “The Court commends Georgia for the great strides that it has made to increase the political opportunities of Black voters in the 58 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Jones wrote. “Despite these great gains, the Court determines that in certain areas of the State, the political process is not equally open to Black voters.”

    He noted that minorities accounted for the state’s population growth in the past decade but said that “the number of majority-Black congressional and legislative districts remained the same.”…..

    Lynn Carey, a retired nurse with a double lung transplant, has spent years trying to get Wisconsin lawmakers to improve healthcare. Carey organized voters in support of the Affordable Care Act back in 2009. Since its passage, she has pushed to get her Republican representatives in the state legislature to expand Medicaid coverage to its poorest residents.

    The idea has been overwhelmingly popular in Wisconsin: a 2019 poll showed 70% of voters in the state supported it. But Medicaid expansion hasn’t gone anywhere – even after Democrats won back Wisconsin’s governorship in 2018.

    Republicans still hold near-supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, and have shown no sign of compromise on this issue or many others popular with most Wisconsinites.

    Their legislative majorities are virtually impenetrable, cemented by Republican-drawn district lines that have guaranteed Republicans control of the legislature even in years where Democrats received more votes statewide. “We don’t have competitive districts where people have to listen to their constituents,” Carey said.

    That could change soon.

    In early October the Wisconsin supreme court agreed to bypass lower courts and hear a case seeking to strike down the legislative maps. The maps are so tilted in favor of Republicans, the plaintiffs in the case argue, that they violate the Wisconsin constitution’s guarantee of free speech and association.

    Liberals won a 4-3 majority on the court in April, and are widely expected to rule that the maps are unconstitutional. Oral arguments in the case are set for 21 November.

    If the current maps are overturned in favor of new, more competitive ones, it’s likely to shrink the Republican advantage in the legislature from a supermajority to a narrow one – and give Democrats a fighting chance at winning control.

    That could transform politics in Wisconsin, forcing Republicans to consider supporting issues that have broad bipartisan support like Medicaid expansion and marijuana legalization that have been stymied by the legislature for more than a decade.……..

    The Wisconsin supreme court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in one of the most closely watched voting rights cases in the country this year.

    The challenge could ultimately lead to the court striking down districts in the state legislature, ending a cemented Republican majority, and upending politics in one of the US’s most politically competitive states.

    The case, Clarke v Wisconsin Elections Commission, is significant because Wisconsin’s state legislative maps, and especially its state assembly districts, are widely considered to be among the most gerrymandered in the US.

    In 2011, Republicans redrew the districts in such a way that cemented an impenetrable majority. In the state assembly, Republicans have consistently won at least 60% of the 99 seats, sometimes with less than 50% of the statewide vote.

    In 2022, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, won re-election by three points, but carried just 38 of 99 assembly districts.

    The Evers result underscored a disturbing anti-democratic reality in Wisconsin: the results of state legislative elections are determined before a single vote is cast.

    Because of that dynamic, the case could restore representation to Wisconsin voters, making their districts more responsive to how they vote.……

    A Florida appellate court ruled on Friday that lawmakers do not have to redraw the state’s congressional map, reversing a September decision that found Republicans discriminated against Black voters when it reconfigured districts in the northern part of the state.

    The ruling from the first district court of appeal is the latest development in a long-running legal battle over Black representation in the state. In 2015, the state supreme court imposed a district that stretched from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee to give Black voters there a chance to elect the candidate of their choosing. From 2015 until 2022, voters in the fifth congressional district elected Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, to represent them. But in 2022, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, went out of his way to dismantle the district, chopping it up into four majority-white districts that all elected Republican candidates.

    A circuit court judge struck down the district in September, citing a provision of the state constitution that makes it illegal to get rid of a district in which voters of color have a chance to elect the candidate of their choosing. The first district reversed that ruling on Friday, saying the challengers had failed to prove that Black voters in the expansive district were cohesive and electing the candidate of their choosing.

    “There was no evidentiary basis for the conclusion that CD-5 afforded a legally cognizable Black community (as the parameters for such have been set out here) voting power that it did not otherwise have,” the 8-2 majority wrote in their opinion. “The plaintiffs then failed to prove a proper benchmark or baseline from which to assess an alleged diminishment in voting power.”

    The parties in the case had hoped to fast-track their case to the Florida supreme court ito get it resolved before the 2024 election. The entire first district, however, decided to intervene and hear the case, slowing the process down.……


    do you have a problem with that?

    From AP:

    The state’s bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission will now be tasked with coming up with new districts, which will then go before the Democrat-controlled Legislature for approval. The court ordered the commission to file a map no later than Feb. 28.
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    CNN) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday ruled the state’s legislative maps, which give Republicans the advantage, are unconstitutional and ordered new lines drawn for the 2024 election.

    The 4-3 decision overturning the current maps in a key battleground state carries major implications for the 2024 election and comes after liberals won control of the court this spring.

    Under the current maps, Republicans enjoy a supermajority in the state Senate and a strong majority in the lower house, despite the state being relatively evenly divided politically.

    The court noted in its ruling that the Wisconsin Constitution requires districts be composed of “contiguous territory.”

    “At least 50 of 99 assembly districts and at least 20 of 33 senate districts violate this mandate, rendering them unconstitutional. We therefore enjoin the Wisconsin Elections Commission from using the current maps in all future elections, as such, remedial 51 maps must be adopted prior to the 2024 elections,” the court wrote…….


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