The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

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The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by *THE Ben Reilly* on Mon May 22, 2017 8:02 pm

WASHINGTON — In striking down North Carolina’s congressional district map, the Supreme Court sent Texas a firm warning Monday about how the state’s case may fare if it reaches that stage.

The 5-3 North Carolina ruling affirmed a previous district court decision, which found that Republican state legislators there had “packed” black voters into two Democratic-held districts to dilute the impact of minority votes in other congressional seats.

Written by Justice Elena Kagan, the ruling is the latest in a series of rejections from the Supreme Court in recent years toward redistricting efforts that include racial considerations. The court demanded the review of Virginia state legislature districts in March and also ruled against Alabama’s state legislature districts in 2015.

Even Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative skeptic of discrimination complaints in the past, sided with the majority in the North Carolina case.

Kagan wrote that the court offers “significant deference” to the district court’s ruling, leaving Texas with the tall order of proving that the lower courts made a “clear error” in the earlier judgments.

Perhaps most significantly, Kagan detailed the court’s opinion in a footnote that using a political defense does not necessarily solve the racial issues. Some Republican-controlled states have argued that, rather than discriminating against minorities, they were merely intending to discriminate against Democrats.

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-politics/2017/05/22/supreme-courts-north-carolina-congressional-districts-ruling-mean-trouble-similar-texas-cases

Holy cow this is a big deal. It means that race and party are not really discrete categories and that discriminating on the basis of party in places of conjoined polarization is equivalent, at least sometimes, to making race the predominant factor in redistricting. This will lead to many more successful racial gerrymandering cases in the American South and elsewhere, and allow these cases to substitute for (so far unsuccessful) partisan gerrymandering claims involving some of these districts. (Why Justice Thomas went along with all of this is a mystery to me. He joined in the opinion, and his separate opinion expresses no disagreement with these footnotes.)

http://electionlawblog.org/?p=92675

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by Original Quill on Mon May 22, 2017 8:37 pm

Shades of Baker v. Carr...I didn't think they cared anymore. Good to see.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by *THE Ben Reilly* on Mon May 22, 2017 9:54 pm

Maybe this topic is just for nerds like us, Quill, but this is, in the words of Joe Biden, a big fucking deal.

Just to illustrate for the non-nerds -- this is North Carolina:

Without partisan gerrymandering, Democrats likely would have won at least three more seats in 2012, giving them a seven-to-six majority in line with their majority of the statewide popular vote that year. In 2014 they would have been in a strong position to keep that majority due to incumbency. That means gerrymandering likely swung at least four out of 13 seats to Republicans in the most recent election ...

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/6/1/1532608/-No-Maryland-is-not-the-most-gerrymandered-state-There-is-more-to-gerrymandering-than-ugly-shapes

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by eddie on Mon May 22, 2017 10:02 pm

It's hard for some of us to understand, perhaps?

US politics make me scratch my head sometimes...you know I need it simplified.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by *THE Ben Reilly* on Tue May 23, 2017 3:29 am

eddie wrote:It's hard for some of us to understand, perhaps?  

US politics make me scratch my head sometimes...you know I need it simplified.

Okay, so as the U.S. population grows, more and more members are added to the lower house of Congress (the House of Representatives), which is tasked with representing (get it?) the agenda of the people who voted its members into power. That's why we take a census every decade, to make sure the House is set up properly and that each state has as many members as it should have.

For example, Texas gets 36 members in the House as one of the more populated states. North Carolina gets fewer, California gets more. It's based on how many people there are in your state.

At the state level, the state government divides the state up into congressional districts, which in theory are equal portions of the state population. Because Texas has 36 representatives, it's divided into 36 congressional districts, and the people living in each district vote for one representative.

In practice, however, the ruling political party draws up the district map in a way that tends to favor it remaining in power. This is called gerrymandering, after a Massachusetts governor named Gerry who did this and ended up drawing an oddly-shaped district on his map that looked like a salamander.*

Here's a chart that shows how you can "cheat" in the way you draw up the map so that the same population ends up with different parties controlling it depending on which party is in charge and thus gets to draw the district map. And yes, there is a little math:



Let's say you had a Democratic city in Texas that was surrounded by a lot of Republican areas (we have a lot of places like that in Texas). You could draw the district boundaries so that the districts were mostly Republican areas, but each one of them had a small piece of the Democratic city, so that the Democrats in the city would never be able to win an election.

Or, you could make the city one huge district with all that area's voters, so that despite the fact it had more people in it than the surrounding Republican areas combined, it would get just one Democratic representative, while each of the Republican areas got its own representative, despite the fact they're sparsely populated.

I know, it's hard to follow and more importantly, it's boring. It's not a sex scandal or embezzlement, so very few people pay any attention to it. It's only as  exciting as a nearly foolproof way to make sure that votes don't count when they're cast by people you don't like, and that a party has far more control over the government than it ever actually won in a fair vote.









*I am so not joking.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by Original Quill on Tue May 23, 2017 4:32 am

If they link race and party...well, race is a suspect classification, meaning reversed presumptions and heightened scrutiny.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by *THE Ben Reilly* on Tue May 23, 2017 4:48 am

Original Quill wrote:If they link race and party...well, race is a suspect classification, meaning reversed presumptions and heightened scrutiny.

And remember what Hasen wrote:

"It means that race and party are not really discrete categories and that discriminating on the basis of party in places of conjoined polarization is equivalent, at least sometimes, to making race the predominant factor in redistricting."

That says to me that there is now, finally, for the first time, some equal protection precedent that applies to political affiliation rather than race.

And really, considering we have one party that is doing almost all the gerrymandering and consistently votes for a less safe America in which your lifespan would be shortened, it's about damn time.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by eddie on Tue May 23, 2017 2:05 pm

Ben Reilly wrote:
eddie wrote:It's hard for some of us to understand, perhaps?  

US politics make me scratch my head sometimes...you know I need it simplified.

Okay, so as the U.S. population grows, more and more members are added to the lower house of Congress (the House of Representatives), which is tasked with representing (get it?) the agenda of the people who voted its members into power. That's why we take a census every decade, to make sure the House is set up properly and that each state has as many members as it should have.

For example, Texas gets 36 members in the House as one of the more populated states. North Carolina gets fewer, California gets more. It's based on how many people there are in your state.

At the state level, the state government divides the state up into congressional districts, which in theory are equal portions of the state population. Because Texas has 36 representatives, it's divided into 36 congressional districts, and the people living in each district vote for one representative.

In practice, however, the ruling political party draws up the district map in a way that tends to favor it remaining in power. This is called gerrymandering, after a Massachusetts governor named Gerry who did this and ended up drawing an oddly-shaped district on his map that looked like a salamander.*

Here's a chart that shows how you can "cheat" in the way you draw up the map so that the same population ends up with different parties controlling it depending on which party is in charge and thus gets to draw the district map. And yes, there is a little math:



Let's say you had a Democratic city in Texas that was surrounded by a lot of Republican areas (we have a lot of places like that in Texas). You could draw the district boundaries so that the districts were mostly Republican areas, but each one of them had a small piece of the Democratic city, so that the Democrats in the city would never be able to win an election.

Or, you could make the city one huge district with all that area's voters, so that despite the fact it had more people in it than the surrounding Republican areas combined, it would get just one Democratic representative, while each of the Republican areas got its own representative, despite the fact they're sparsely populated.

I know, it's hard to follow and more importantly, it's boring. It's not a sex scandal or embezzlement, so very few people pay any attention to it. It's only as  exciting as a nearly foolproof way to make sure that votes don't count when they're cast by people you don't like, and that a party has far more control over the government than it ever actually won in a fair vote.


*I am so not joking.



Okay! Thanks dude I get it. It's like dividing the pie so you make sure you get the most chunks of goat meat, right?
I'm not calling anyone a goat btw.

So why isn't there an independent person or party of people, responsible for doing the dividing properly? To leave it up to the ruling parties is just stupid.

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Re: The Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling that could change America forever

Post by eddie on Tue May 23, 2017 2:08 pm

From your link:
But Draper argues that the U.S. is the only democracy in the world where politicians have an active role in creating voting districts, and says it plays a large role in the divisive nature of our politics


You think?? It's a ridiculous way to do things. No wonder US politics is so fucked.

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