28 June, 2006

Gerrymandering decision

From our friends over at SCOTUSblog:
The Supreme Court, splintering widely, on Wednesday found an insufficient claim of partisan gerrymandering in the Texas congressional redistricting. It also rejected a challenge to mid-decade congressional redistricting. It did not rule on whether all partisan gerrymander claims are beyond judicial review. The Court is split on that issue, and the division remains. It found the state's new District 23 invalid under the federal Voting Rights Act. District 24 was upheld against a Voting Rights Act challenge. The opinion can be found here.
So there's no objection to redistricting after every election? Let the fun begin. I wonder how long it will be to have even more states locked into unbreakable majorities for one party or another? And since the only part of the Texas plan to be overturned was on the basis of minority voting rights, I can just imagine the number of "concerned" politicians, "fighting to give the people a voice," will be tieing up the courts with accusations of racial peference. Then again, I'm opposed to gerrymanering as a general rule. We now have the software to divide up districts according to two criteria:

  1. each district has roughly the same number of people, and
  2. overall, the total length of all district borders within a state is minimized.

If we were to do that, we'd have something more like an impartial and intuitive distribution of districts. The equal population rule promotes the ideal of one person/one vote. The minimum borders rule restricts the unnatural road-hugging, stretching, and other shapes that make represntation more about party, race and class than about common location. I suspect federalists like Madison, with his general opposition to parties and factions, would agree that this is superior to the current (and future) rules.

It ain't gonna happen, though.

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