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Once more unto the gerrymandering breach

The Supreme Court last month was down with gerrymandering, and we know how that plays out in the Pointy Abandoned Object State™. Ever since Bug Man Tom DeLay's mid-decade redistricting almost 15 years ago.

First, the ruling itself? I think it was in a gray zone between right and wrong constitutionally. Roberts is right that the founders probably expected some degree of politicization, while ignoring that those same founders believed America had, or would, transcend petty political parties. At the same time, he also ignores that many state legislatures have vested redistricting power in nonpartisan redistricting commissions, undermining his argument to some degree. At the third time (shades of Idries Shah!) he is right that, unlike, say, race, the courts have nothing close to an objective standard for determining what is too partisan.

So, overall, while not hugely right, it is right constitutionally as I see it.

That said, this blogger has long said the real answer is proportional representation off a national list (or state list for state elections), just like most of continental Europe. But, both halves of the duopoly would rather gerrymander than empower third parties like that.

Eric Foner, at The Nation, has a take on the ruling that's about ... oh, 3/5 correct, and yes that's a pun. Foner is right in that the Founders didn't envisage, or desire, political parties. But, modern critical histories of the American Revolution note that Loyalists and Patriots arose, at least in part, from King's Party vs Country Party divisions back in Britain, so, it was one of the more major idiocies of the Philadelphia 1787 era for them not to do so. Beyond that, there's plenty of other things they didn't envision, whether they should have or not.

And, given that the Elbridge Gerry of gerrymandering namesaking fame WAS a Founding Father, this claim isn't totally true anyway.

Foner is right that the Court has pulled this stuff before. He cites one of Holmes' worst rulings (without noting that Holmes had many others, and that this might not have been the worst) on a related issue. That said, he ignores that the Court has, in the past, repeatedly intervened in racial gerrymandering cases, making his neat condemnation actually not so neat. Now, the court may also retreat further in the future on those such cases, but, we'll see that happen when it happens if it happens. Foner does get bonus points for using Bush v Gore as a petard/sledgehammer combo.

But the overall tone of the piece comes close to, if not veering into, "liberal originalist" takes on the Constitution, and given what I think of Larry Tribe and Akhil Reed Amar, I ain't a fan.

But, at lest Foner is better than the political craptacularness written by John Nichols.

Nichols, among the most open of The Nation's senior staff in hating third parties in general and Greens in particular, has the hypocritical gall to accuse the Roberts Court of supporting political privilege.


Beyond that, there were other rulings that were worse. The Bladensburg Cross ruling was horrendous and I don't see The Nation saying boo about it. Maybe because two librulz, Breyer and Kagan, were among teh stupidz.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Once more unto the gerrymandering breach


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