This Is Either Gonna Bum You Out About The 2018 Midterms, Or Inspire You To Fight Even Harder
The Brennan Center for Social Justice just released a very comprehensive report on Republican gerrymandering and how effective it’s been: “Extreme Gerrymandering & the 2018 Midterm.” So effective, in fact, that according to the report, in order for Democrats to retake the House this year, they’ll have win the popular vote nationwide by 11 points. And they warn: “What looks to be one of the most important recent midterm elections may turn out, in fact, to show how effectively extreme gerrymandering distorts American democracy and blunts the public’s voice.”
To which we say: it’s still doable. We just saw it in the unlikeliest of places: Western Pennsylvania, where Democrat Conor Lamb carried the day in a district that had gone whole hog for Trump. The swing there? 20+ points.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court tomorrow hears arguments in a landmark political gerrymandering case involving Maryland, one of two on the agenda for this year. And that’s unusual. The Court has not typically taken up cases related to political gerrymandering: designed to keep incumbents in office and expand their influence. (Although it has consistently ruled against gerrymandering based on race). The late Justice Antonin Scalia had a lot to do with that, according to this article in Politico Magazine. Even in tremendously egregious instances like North Carolina, where voter registration is pretty evenly divided between Republican and Democrat, yet Republicans control 10 out of 13 seats in the House of Representatives. According the the same article, when asked what explains the 10–3 imbalance, one state legislator replied: “Because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”.
While the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in a re-drawing of election districts in Pennsylvania recently should mean a lot in the midterms, it means very little in terms of signaling how the Court might rule on the subject in the future. In fact, one might argue if anything, the Court’s decision to leave Pennsylvania alone indicates it’s still not inclined to intervene. In this case, on the grounds that it was a state matter, and therefore the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had the ultimate authority,
(Pennsylvania’s another one of those states where even though Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 800,000, through gerrymandering, Republicans have been able to capture 13 of 18 House seats)
And the Statesman reports one of the Justice Department’s top lawyers will play an active role in trying to keep Texas gerrymandered. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco has asked lawyers representing the State of Texas to share their time with him when the case is argued before the Supreme Court in mid-April. Which they almost surely will. President Obama had challenged the Texas maps as discriminatory; now Trump’s putting his full force behind supporting them as valid.