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.
    A federal judge in Georgia on Thursday upheld a Republican-drawn congressional map, a ruling branded “a disgrace” by voting rights advocates who claim that the latest district lines illegally dilute the voting power of minority residents.

    The decision from Steve Jones set the stage for next year’s elections, with Republicans now likely to maintain their 9-5 advantage among the swing state’s 14 seats in the US House of Representatives.

    In three separate but similarly worded orders, Jones rejected claims that the new maps do not do enough to help Black voters. “The court finds that the general assembly fully complied with this court’s order requiring the creation of Black-majority districts in the regions of the state where vote dilution was found,” the judge wrote.

    The case is one of several pending lawsuits whose outcomes could determine which party controls the House after November’s vote. Democrats need to capture a net of five Republican seats nationally to win back a majority.

    The maps were redrawn in a recent special legislative session after Jones in October ruled that a prior set of maps illegally harmed Black voters. In a 516-page order, the judge, appointed to the bench by Barack Obama, a Democrat, told legislators to create a new map that included an additional district with a Black majority or near-majority.

    While the state filed an appeal, the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, also scheduled a special legislative session to comply with the order.

    In early December, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a map that adds Black-majority districts, including one in Congress, two in the state senate and five in the state house.

    But in doing so, Republicans also dismantled Georgia’s seventh district, held by the gun-control advocate Lucy McBath, a Black woman. Situated in a suburb north-east of Atlanta, it is composed mostly of minority voters, including Black, Latino and Asian residents.

    The court’s decision means that McBath is likely to have to seek to run in a new district for the second election in a row, after Republicans drew her out of the district she originally won. She wrote in a fundraising email on Thursday: “I won’t let Republicans decide when my time in Congress is over.”

    Democrats and voting rights groups had argued that the revised map violated Jones’s ruling, which had said the state could not remedy the problem “by eliminating minority districts elsewhere”. Republicans asserted that their effort complied with the decision because McBath’s district was not majority Black.

    But LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Black Voters Matter fund, suggested Republicans and the gun lobby intentionally targeted a district where McBath has been able to build a multiracial coalition. She said of Thursday’s ruling: “It’s a disgrace. It is reflective of how politicised the courts are.

    “It amplifies the reason why we need a strong federal voting rights law. We need something that is ironclad and even holds the bench accountable. They’ve weakened the law in such a way that the judges are in many ways not even interpreting what the law is saying.”…….
    Guess this can go here

    A little over nine months after he was sworn in to his first term in Congress, Jeff Jackson, a freshman US representative for North Carolina, announced he would leave the body at the end of his term.

    To an outsider, that might seem like a surprising decision. In just his first few months in Congress, Jackson had become well-known for smart, short videos explaining what was going on at the Capitol. By April, he had more followers on TikTok than any other member of Congress, the Washington Post reported (as of mid-December he had 2.5 million). By all accounts, he was a rising star.

    But the reason for his planned departure was simple – it was impossible for him to win re-election. In October, Republicans enacted a new congressional map that reconfigured the boundaries of his district. They cracked the district near Charlotte, which Jackson won by more than 15 points in 2022, and divided voters into two districts that heavily favor GOP voters. It was an effort made possible by the new Republican majority on the North Carolina supreme court, which reversed a key rulinglimiting extreme partisan gerrymandering it issued just months ago. Jackson announced he would run for attorney general in the state instead.

    The Guardian spoke to Jackson about gerrymandering, what he’s learned in Congress, and his decision to leave. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    You get that phone call – and you have no chance of winning re-election. What’s that like?

    To be honest, we knew it was very likely to end up that way. I was not shocked. They had absolute power to draw almost any map they wanted. And we all know what absolute power does to politicians. Frankly, it would have been a shock if we hadn’t seen this level of corruption from them.

    So you sort of knew that this was coming.

    I didn’t know it to a certainty. And I didn’t have any advance information. I just knew the legal freedom that our court was going to grant them and I knew what their incentives were. So if you have that information you can predict the outcome.

    Can I ask you what happened with the supreme court in North Carolina. Obviously, they switched their rulings on the districts within a matter of months after control of the court flipped. And some people might look at that and say that’s not surprising, the partisan makeup changes, the rulings change. Is there something there that you think people should pay more attention to?

    On its face it’s deeply concerning. I don’t think you have to know much about the court or politics to see exactly what happened here. This is one of those instances where one of the most obvious explanations is simply the right one. The court was elected with a different partisan composition and they acted in a partisan way to accommodate their party. I think the simple read here is the right one.

    And do you think people pay close enough attention to what’s happening in supreme court races? I mean, there was one in North Carolina that was decided by 400 votes.

    I am absolutely positive that they do not. Just with my conversations with voters over the years, the judicial races are the ones furthest from people’s radar.…….

    Let me make myself clear...

    I will vote for that same Butterfinger that ran against Jeff Landry than to vote for Cleo Fields.

    In other words, if Graves runs for re-election, he's getting my vote again.
    Wisconsin lawmakers voted on Tuesday to adopt legislative maps drawn by the Democratic governor, Tony Evers – inching the state closer to undoing the extreme gerrymander that has ensured Republican control of the state for more than a decade.

    The pair of votes in the Republican-dominatedstate assembly and state senate are a sign that the years-long battle over Wisconsin’s legislative maps may be finally drawing to a close, giving Democrats a chance to win control of the state legislature in upcoming elections for the first time since 2012.

    The vote is the result of a December ruling from the Wisconsin supreme court that the current state assembly and senate maps are unconstitutional, ordering the state to adopt new legislative maps before the 2024 election – and setting a mid-March deadline.

    Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the governor and multiple third party groups submitted revised maps to the court for consideration, and in a 1 February report, consultants hired by the court to review them said that the GOP-drawn maps maintained the partisan gerrymander and “do not deserve further consideration”. The maps submitted by Democrats retained a Republican advantage, the consultants found, but to a much-reduced degree.……

    I can only guess they were more afraid of the maps that the court would have drawn up vs the one (D)s proposed

    The Assembly and Senate passed the bill in quick succession Tuesday, sending it to Evers. Last week, he promised to sign his maps into law if the Legislature passed them with no changes. Republicans did tweak the language to ensure the new maps don’t take effect until November, but it’s unclear if that’s a dealbreaker for the governor. He did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday. His spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, tweeted after the votes that Evers position has not changed. She did not elaborate.
    He was a lot nicer about it than I would have been

    “When I promised I wanted fair maps — not maps that are better for one party or another, including my own — I damn well meant it,” Evers said prior to signing the maps into law at the state Capitol. “Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state — we’re a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact.
    Montgomery, Alabama is the birthplace of the Confederacy and of the civil rights movement. Its history speaks volumes about the state of American democracy. It is perhaps ironic, then, how the last generation of its voters have largely been silenced.

    For decades, Alabama’s capital city has been split between two or three different congressional districts – a deliberate effort by state leaders to prevent power from accreting to Black voters. Recently the region has been represented by a white Freedom Caucus Republican.

    But last year a bruising court battle forced Alabama to redraw its district lines, finally placing the entire city and a wide swath of Alabama’s Black Belt of African American residents in the same congressional district.

    The runoff for the newly drawn congressional district is Tuesday. Now Montgomery – and Alabama’s Black voters – have to be heard by anyone who wants to serve them in Congress.

    “We want somebody who is philosophically aligned with the city,” said Steven Reed, the mayor of Montgomery. “On issues around voting rights, on issues around healthcare, Medicaid expansion and access to healthcare, we would like to have an advocate.”

    “From our standpoint, there’s a tremendous need for the congressman to be able to leverage their position in the United States House of Representatives to bring resources back.”……


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