November 22, 2016

A 3-judge federal panel finds that the Wisconsin legislature gerrymandered to the point of violating the Equal Protection Clause.

The NYT reports. The unusual federal jurisdiction here begins with 3 district court judges, followed by Supreme Court review. The Supreme Court has never found any political gerrymandering to violate the Equal Protection Clause, and some of the Justices even reject the theoretical possibility of a violation.
Several election-law scholars said the ruling was especially significant because it offered, for the first time, a clear mathematical formula for measuring partisanship in a district, something that had been missing in previous assaults on gerrymandering.

The 2-to-1 ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin said that the Legislature’s remapping violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it aimed to deprive Democratic voters of their right to be represented. “Although Wisconsin’s natural political geography plays some role in the apportionment process,” the court wrote, “it simply does not explain adequately the sizable disparate effect” of Republican gains in the State Assembly after the boundaries were redrawn.
The Western District of Wisconsin includes Madison, where the "natural political geography" is heavily Democratic. One way gerrymandering is done is by deliberately packing extra Democrats/Republicans into a district instead of spreading some of them around into districts where that party could become competitive. But Madison is a political unit that traditional principles of districting would keep together. So when is the party in power taking too much advantage — and how much should courts be trusted to push back that advantage?

In this case, the court was split 2 to 1. I would expect the Supreme Court — with its new Trump appointee — to reverse the decision. But I haven't yet read the case, and I'm wondering about this innovation that is the "clear mathematical formula for measuring partisanship."
Courts have generally agreed that some partisan advantage in redistricting is tolerable, in part because voters themselves are not spread equally across a state or district by party. But the plaintiffs in the case, 12 state Democrats represented by the Campaign Legal Center, had argued that the Wisconsin remapping was among the most sharply partisan in the nation.
But isn't that because Democrats have gerrymandered themselves by living in Madison and Milwaukee? I can believe we are the most sharply geographically partisan state in the union. It didn't take power-grabbing legislators drawing new and devious lines to make that so. It can be partly or mostly the behavior of people choosing where to live and being like-minded with our neighbors.
Their lawsuit said that in the 2012 elections for the Assembly, Wisconsin Republicans won 48.6 percent of the two-party vote but took 61 percent of the Assembly’s 99 seats.
That's like the way Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the presidential election: Democrats crowd together in smaller parts of the overall territory. The math doesn't prove the lines were drawn aggressively to take partisan advantage. The state lines never move, and we see, in the national election, the effects of the people who are Democrats gerrymandering themselves. I'm skeptical of this "clear mathematical formula" as a measurement of what happened in the minds of the line-drawers.
In Monday’s ruling, the court was swayed by a new and simple mathematical formula to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering, called the efficiency gap. The formula divides the difference between the two parties’ “wasted votes” — votes beyond those needed by a winning side, and votes cast by a losing side — by the total number of votes cast. When both parties waste the same number of votes, the result is zero — an ideal solution. But as a winning party wastes fewer and fewer votes than its opponent, its score rises.
That's simple, all right, but I'm very suspicious of the way that it is simple.

80 comments:

gerry said...

Professor, could this really happen?

gerry said...

Or, is my feeling that the article is click-bait, National Enquirer grade, correct?

Alexander said...

The most idiotic thing we do is have districts that seek to equalize the number of voters down to the nearest 1.

> Census isn't 100% accurate anyway
> It sure as hell isn't within a year or five.

Instead, the sensible thing to do would be to divide into obvious entities and geographic regions, and then subdivide the big ones (along preexisting subdivisions) until you get a ball park figure of equality, say all districts within a 2% range of population.

paminwi said...

Reading comments from other lawyers they feel this decision will be overturned. Yo Dems in Wisconsin! Don't get too excited yet.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, could this really happen?"

It's enough of a problem that those who don't want it to happen had better be ready to fight.

mccullough said...

Interesting what the effect, if any, of the most recent election on this efficiency gap in Wisconsin. Johnson was re-elected in a presidential year with a majority vote. And the GOP in Wisconsin performs even better in off year elections, which is why they got to draw the map in 2011. Can that be taken into account when drawing boundaries? And the tough thing in drawing boundaries is the geographic component. All the assembly and state senate areas are geographically contiguous with no really bizarre looking districts, geometrically speaking.

Ann Althouse said...

The fact that it's not talked about more is reason to be afraid that it's in the works. Are Republicans dumb enough to get caught with their pants down?

rhhardin said...

I doubt they have a reasonable mathematical formula.

If you wanted to do it, it would involve not the resulting voter distribution but the shapes of the boundaries, accounting for rivers, town boundaries and so forth, but otherwise minimizing some ratio of perimeter squared to area. E.g., no wiggly boundaries unless it's following a river.

The contents may be 100% democrat but it's not gerrymandering.

Unknown said...

I don't know about Obama recess appointment to the Supreme Court.

Or judges in general. Those are lifetime appointments; you cannot recess appoint them for two years. If Obama does it, what happens two years from now: Garland is forcibly retired? Who will make him go?

I just don't think you can recess appoint a lifetime appointment that would expire in two years.

That would cripple the lifetime bit, wouldn't it?

--Vance

Hagar said...

"Be careful what you wish for."

The Republican Party may be very happy to lose this as a start to breaking up the Democrat gerrymandering of California.

Unknown said...

Also: I'm pretty sure that if Obama decides to do this, and basically thumb his nose at the country, he wouldn't put Garland on the court.

He'd pick someone far, far, far left. William Ayers, for instance. Or maybe even Warren. After all, if all you are going to get is two years, the whole 'pick an unknown that will pass confirmation' is moot. So he'll go for the farthest left commie he can find, even if they are on deaths door. Perhaps even Hillary.

--Vance

Gahrie said...

Since when were political parties protected by the equal protection clause?

sane_voter said...

If Obama tries to recess appoint Garland, the 2018 midterms will be like 2010 and 2014 for the Dems.

Gahrie said...

When did the Democratic Party become a protected class?

StoughtonSconnie said...

Professor, I share your skepticism, for two reasons. First, the "new mathematically formula" was created by, and for the benefit of, partisans on the other side of the gerrymander. It seems that if there is to be new way to determine districts, it should follow state law and judicial precedents, and "math formulas that democrats like" isn't in either. Second, to bolster your point about democratic voters gerrymandering themselves, if you take the two party vote in contested elections from 2016, it was GOP 906k, Dems 689k. The statewide total means nothing, elections are run by districts, and if you don't have the better argument for your district, you lose.

Yancey Ward said...

Obama won't try a recess appointment because it won't work. The Republicans in the Senate may not be totally united on a lot things, but one thing they will be united on would be this. The Senate would be recalled immediately and Garland would be voted down publicly.

hombre said...

Egomaniacal oligarchs in judicial robes invent new rules to thwart the people's elected representative - once again.

I clerked for an honorable federal judge whose cardinal rules were verify jurisdiction first and respect the authority of the states and the people's elected representatives. Federal courts no longer honor their "limited jurisdiction" or their constitutional obligations to state sovereignty. They think they ARE the Constitution.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's a good explanation of the recess appointment idea:

"Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.” This has been used for Supreme Court vacancies before—William Brennan began his Court tenure with a recess appointment in 1956. Any appointments made in this fashion expire at the end of the next Senate session. So a Garland appointment on January 3 would last until December 2017, the end of the first session of the 115th Congress.

"Why January 3? Because the president’s recess appointment powers were significantly constrained by a 2014 Supreme Court ruling. In a 9-0 decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, the Court said the president cannot appoint individuals to fill vacancies if the Senate holds “pro forma” sessions every three days. Though these sessions, common since 2011, merely gavel in and gavel out the Senate chamber, they have the practical effect of keeping the Senate active, therefore blocking the recess appointment power.

"But even the Court’s most conservative members acknowledged that a president can make recess appointments during “inter-session” recesses—such as the break between the first and second year of a Congress, or the break between outgoing or incoming Congresses. There simply has to be an end point there, as a metaphysical matter. Theodore Roosevelt once used a short inter-session recess to make hundreds of appointments.

"Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, included language in the decision saying that Senate breaks of any kind, inter-session or intra-session, must be longer than ten days for appointments to be valid. However, legal scholars refer to this language as “dicta.” It was not relevant to the actual decision in Noel Canning, which was solely about whether pro forma sessions were legitimate. The clause about the length of a recess, more provocative lawyers argue, is authoritative but not binding. They say it goes beyond the facts before the Court, represents the individual views of the judge, and cannot be cited as legal precedent.

"This is a highly aggressive and probably doomed strategy, without question. But we know that Congress understands the potential for inter-session recess appointments because Representative Chris Collins (a member of the Trump transition team) filed a constitutional amendment this year to end them. Collins specifically cited the Garland issue as his justification: “It’s been 111 days since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the bench and, while the Senate has continued to hold their ground on proceeding, we need to ensure the president cannot fill this slot—in the form of a recess appointment.”"

SteveBrooklineMA said...

People can be overly impressed with math. You could put a dozen different math people in different rooms and they would emerge with a dozen different formulas. Then what do you do? Have pols vote on the one they like most? In the end would the result change things?

sane_voter said...

It is amazing that these redistricting decisions always seem to go the Dems way, even though they have gerrymandered as bad or worse in some of their states like IL, NJ, CA, and MD. it is also amazing that the Dems blew it so badly in 2009/10, to go from the position of strength they had in the federal and state legislative bodies to where they are now. Stunning actually. But it couldn't have happened to a more deserving group of politicians.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

People can be overly impressed with math. You could put a dozen different math people in different rooms and they would emerge with a dozen different formulas. Then what do you do? Have pols vote on the one they like most? In the end would the result change things?

Achilles said...

I hate gerrymandering and the racism that is the core of the law. MLK was a great man and we should uphold the principle of judging a person by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

And I just want to congratulate gerry for masterfully hijacking the thread. This thread now has 2 infuriating topics in it. So much so I am wondering what the rules for impeachment of a Supreme Court justice are.

JAORE said...

Some of the congressional districts around the nation look like amoebas performing a mating ritual. Lots of thin segments, often along Interstate rights of way where there are NO residents, just to connect with the next blob of (fill in the blank) affiliates.

Often this has resulted in seats guaranteed for one party or even a black representative. I've often thought the districts should be based on geographic , economic and similar criteria.

But I doubt if there is a mathematical way of this "fair" redistricting that would not be perverted by whichever party is in power.

As always, be careful what you wish for.

RonF said...

Using the efficiency formula they cite is based on a false premise - that the objective of apportionment should be to have the political party representation of a State reflect the overall party vote of the State. That's a fallacy. For one thing, the Constitution doesn't even recognize the existence of political parties, so claiming that the Constitution guarantees them equal representation is wrong - it guarantees them nothing, and the Founders in fact consistently considered the concept of political parties as harmful to the nation. The idea was to have regions represented in legislatures, not political parties. The Democrats' problem is that they have chosen to represent a demographic that densely concentrates itself. The fact that this results in skewed representation for the party is not a problem for the legislature to solve, it's a problem for the party to solve.

SukieTawdry said...

So what's the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin like? Liberal, I'm guessing. Is this merely the latest lawfare salvo against Walker?

Will courts ever look at the districts that were gerrymandered way back in the 60's, and remain so today, to ensure Congress has black members? That Voting Rights Act gerrymandering guarantees that even the stupidest, most extreme, most inept members of the CBC have lifetime employment should they so wish. It's the reason, I think, so few black politicians advance beyond that level.

California has tried a number of methods for drawing Congressional districts. Currently, we have an "independent" commission drawn from a pool of nominees selected by a panel of state auditors so partisan we might as well have left it to the politicians. In a one-party state, the methodology may change, but the results generally remain the same.

Yancey Ward said...

RonF succinctly describes the problem of having the courts apply an equal protection clause rationale for overturning any redistricting decision. Where in the Constitution are Democrats or Republicans granted equal protection? Indeed, where are the Green Party districts? Where are the Libertarian Party districts? Where are the Evangelical districts?

There is a reason these decisions were left to the states and the state legislatures in the first place; and at the state level, I can't even imagine how one constructs a rationale for the federal court to involve itself.

AllenS said...

Without gerrymandering, there would be very few black representatives.

mikee said...

"Disparate effect" is the entire point of gerrymandering. If that camel gets its nose under the tent flap, there is no limit to the judicial interference possible in party politics. So now we have judicially mandated quotas for Democrats?

Hagar said...

I am not so sure of that, but there would be very few segregationist Black Representatives.

MadisonMan said...

People do not gerrymander themselves. Gerrymandering is restricted to corrupt politicians bent on retaining power and control.

People might segregate themselves. But please stop using the word gerrymander to describe that.

Unknown said...

So Ann: What would have happened to Brennan if the Senate hadn't confirmed him? Brennan would have automatically been removed from the Court?

I thought the only way for a Supreme Court justice to go from the court is either death, resignation, or impeachment. That's by design, so that there is no political pressure on them. Article III, good behavior clause. Expiring because of a recess appointment would seem to violate that.

Thus, once appointed via recess appointment, the judge is there for life, right?

--Vance

Achilles said...

AllenS said...
Without gerrymandering, there would be very few black representatives.

Without gerrymandering, there would be very few democrat black representatives.

You forgot a word.

AllenS said...

How many republican black representatives are there?

AJ Lynch said...

We hear the same complaints in Pennsylvania where Repubs are a minority of the populace yet they win a majority of U.S. House districts. It is due to, as Althouse said, the Dems tending to live clustered in the big cities [Phila and Pittsburgh] but not so much on non-urban areas.

I don't think there is a way around this when geography/ county boundaries are the first criteria used to draw districts. And I thank God for that.

gerry said...

Achilles, I'm sorry. :( I'll behave in the future. ;)

Unknown said...

AllenS: I live in Mia Love's district. She's a black Republican.

So there's at least one! I voted for her a couple of weeks ago.

--Vance

grackle said...

Are Republicans dumb enough to get caught with their pants down?

And they’ll also bend over at the same time and invite the Dems to cornhole them. Seriously, we should always assume the worst about the idiots in Congress.

Sam L. said...

Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

AllenS said...

I agree there is one. However, Love didn't need a gerrymandered district to pull it off. Big diff.

TreeJoe said...

So to sum up....landslide elections are bad for the party. You want the country to be evenly split and at each other's throats.

I'm pretty sure creating a mathematical formula for districting is not the role of the judiciary, but maybe I skipped a class or three in my time.

SukieTawdry said...

I don't think there is a way around this when geography/ county boundaries are the first criteria used to draw districts.

My Congressional district stretches from mid-state all the way up to the Oregon state line. There's no urban center in the entire district. It's a very red district in a very blue state.

SukieTawdry said...

I meant to add that in the last redistricting, they put the most populous section of my county in another district and one of the finest conservative Congressman in the country, a man I was actually proud to vote for, went with it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

sane_voter: MD in particular is nasty. I pay attention as my parents live there.

There isn't any way to not "gerrymander" when most Democrats live in overwhelmingly Democratic places (i.e., "cities"), and most Republicans live in very mildly Republican places (i.e., "everywhere else"). The Democratic vote is concentrated, and the Republican vote is dilute, and dilute is a major asset. You can't gerrymander that; it is what it is.

Two other factors: (1) a lot of gerrymanders revolve around getting two incumbents into the same district, not messing with the vote otherwise. Nasty (and both sides do it, every census), but not the same as a gerrymander meant to steal a district. And (2) "majority-minority" districts, basically a devils' pact between the Congressional Black Caucus, La Raza, and the Republican Party wherein a "black/Latino" district is carefully carved out of a city, so that someone black or brown will be elected; meanwhile, everywhere nearby is bleached, as it were. The result is that the CBC or La Raza gets another member, while the Republicans get another three or four or five.

AJ Lynch said...

Sukie:

That is how these things work out in many states. For instance, in Penna, Philadelphia has almost enough population to get two full Congress districts so it is put in two districts and they add the people from a neighboring liberal enclave [my town btw] to fill out the required population for the two districts. That seems reasonable to me.

Yet many Dems think there is a way around this as if we should allocate 100K or so Phila residents to each district which would make the district maps even more screwy.

My name goes here. said...

the Scalia death happened during an honest to goodness recess. Obama could have recessed appointed someone right then. I assume he still could, claiming that the recess occurred when Congress was not in session.

And yes, as per the Constitution their office would end upon the start of the next Congress.

Finally, should be appoint someone on 03 JAN 2017 to have a two year run on the Court it would be THE biggest campaign issue and it would run for 2 full years. IMHO.

Owen said...

Give a kid a hammer, everything becomes a nail. Here: if you think of a district in terms of votes, you get BS like this. If you think of it instead as a place where people live (and one which tries to have a maximum area for a given perimeter), you avoid BS like this. I haven't drilled down into the formula and I don't know this stuff well enough, but my suspicion is, the math here is about as sound as that used to demonstrate "disparate impact" in civil rights cases.

Which is to say, it is very shaky.

If you are unlucky I will comment again after I've thought more about it...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

AllenS,

No, Mia Love didn't need a gerrymander. Why should she?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

AJ Lynch, are you saying that there are Pennsylvanians who want to spread Philadelphians' votes over the whole state?

Cody Taggart said...

Under my real name, I was one of the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic staff in legislative redistricting years ago. There is no doubt in my mind but that we had far more sophisticated mathematical models, and datasets than did the Republicans and we put them to good use.

The formula the court is using sounds like it was invented solely to achieve the specific outcome the court reached - apparently ignoring the effects of incumbency, uncontested races, campaign finance, other contested local races, the overall political competitiveness of the state, and good measures of local partisanship. All of these were important factors for us in determining what advantage a redistricting plan could offer us.

In the years since I was involved in these activities, I've seen no evidence that Republicans have become more skilled at the game of politics. They are still the stupid party. They are winning more elections despite the fact that, like the early NY Mets, no one there knows how to play the game. Fortunately for them, the Democrats are committed to self-destruction, self-enrichment and corruption.



mikeski said...

"but I'm very suspicious of the way that it is simple."

How so?

Because "the minimum number of votes should be wasted" is mathematically equivalent to "the popular vote should decide the election"?

Because meeting the "minimum wasted votes" criteria actually requires gerrymandering the ____ out a state, so that the districts exactly match the voting population? Eliminating these wasted votes requires "districts" that vote 100% R or 100% D... districting by individual household (or apartment!), and changing the districts when anyone moves, or has a change of heart. And thus, any steps taken towards minimizing "wasted votes" also involve additional gerrymandering on a smaller scale. So the "mathematical formula to prove illegal gerrymandering" requires as a solution... even worse gerrymandering?

quizbowla said...

Vance:

John Rutledge was recess appointed by Washington in 1795 to Chief Justice. The Senate rejected him as a permanent replacement for Jay, and so he left when the recess appointments clause said he would. There is clear precedent, going back to those who wrote and ratified the Constitution, for the recess appointments clause (in Article II) to be applied to judges. The appointments clause specifically mentions judges, and the recess appointments clause clarifies the appointments clause, so judges and justices are clearly within its purview.

sane_voter said...

Cody,

I don't doubt back then the Wisc. Dems had an advantage in redistricting. I also doubt that is the case today. I am familiar with Florida and they did a fine job in drawing the districts to benefit the GOP. When the "Fair Districts Florida" amendment passed (which was pushed by the Dems under the guise of "non-partisan electoral fairness"), it effectively reduced the ability of partisan redistricting. But even that amendment did not specify some ratio of party members to be included in a district, just that the districts should be feasibly equal in population and to use city, county and geographical boundaries. Now the Florida Supreme Court will decide the redistricting fairness. And that could be as unfair as what it replaced depending on the partisanship of the Court.

sane_voter said...

"they did a fine job" in the above post refers to Florida Repbulicans

Basil said...

Justice Garland could then be immediately impeached and removed from the bench.
Should take about a week.

Mike Sylwester said...

This is what happens when Scientific Progressives are allowed to become federal judges.

protestmanager said...

Hmm, didn't the Supreme Court just rule on a challenge to redistricting based on "voting population" rather than "total population"? Why yes, they did!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-rejects-conservative-bid-to-count-only-eligible-voters-for-districts/2016/04/04/67393e52-fa6f-11e5-9140-e61d062438bb_story.html

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that states may satisfy “one person, one vote” rules by drawing election districts based on the total population of a place, a defeat for conservative interests that wanted the districts based only on the number of people eligible to vote.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, was considered one of the most important on voting rights this term, and a decision the other way would have shifted political power away from urban areas, where Democrats usually dominate, and toward more Republican-friendly rural areas.


So you can't force a State to district based on "voting age population", but you CAN force a State to district based on "voter habits"?

If this doesn't get tossed 9-0, none of the Supreme Court "Justices" voting with the lower court thugs will ever again have any credibility.

AJ Lynch said...

Michele:
Not exactly but the Phila Inquirer just wrote an idiotorial that stated gerrymandering led to way more Repub House members even tho Dems have way more of the population [of course they failed to note the Penna Dems are concentrated in two cities just like they are in in Wisconsin] The idiotors didn't suggest a remedy but what else would address their so-called inequity but a re-allocation of every district so it matched the state's party breakdown.

protestmanager said...

As, I believe it was Tim Kaine, pointed out before the election, there's nothing in the Constitution specifying that there have to be 9 Supreme Court Justices.

So if Obama wants to "recess appoint" Garland, he can go right ahead.

Then President Trump will appoint 2, 3, maybe even 4 new lifetime Supreme Court Justices, and we'll have to some REAL fun.

I am sadly coming to the conclusion that to be a member of the Left, one must be a sociopath

Glibness and Superficial Charm

Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."

Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.


It's that last one that's the key: It never ever occurs to the Left that they're creating precedents to be used against them, because they're the only real people, everyone else is just a bunch of tools to be used.

SukieTawdry said...

Here: if you think of a district in terms of votes, you get BS like this. If you think of it instead as a place where people live (and one which tries to have a maximum area for a given perimeter), you avoid BS like this.

When I first moved to California, I lived in Newport Beach. It and it's adjoining "sister" city Costa Mesa shared a lot of services and, most significantly, a unified school district. Even so, in the 1970 redistricting they put the two cities in separate Congressional and State Assembly districts. They were, I think, trying to formulate a blue district from a thin strip of coastal cities in what was then a very red Orange County. It was back when Ronald Reagan was governor, so the state hadn't gone berserk yet.

SukieTawdry said...

Good point, protestmanager.

Unknown said...

One of the perennial complaints about Mia Love's district is that it was heavily gerrymanded. Utah used to have one Democrat district and 2 Republican ones. When the Census gave Utah a 4th seat, they took the opportunity to redraw all the districts, effectively splitting the core Democrat voting base in the State (concentrated in Salt Lake county and Park City) and diluting down the Democrat presence.

Mia Love is in the one heavily Democrat district left. But they watered it down with lots of rural Utah, a place where Democrats are scarce.

I'd feel bad for the Democrats, but the local Utah Democrat party just picked a transgendered character to run for US senate solely because they were transgender (that person is a grocery clerk). The Republican incumbent (Mike Lee) spent most of the race outside of Utah helping other candidates. So the Utah Democrat party really is stupid beyond all reason, and it's wise to keep them as far from power as possible.

--Vance

Seeing Red said...

If blue wants more blue, put up better candidates and convince red to vote for said blue candidate.

Why does this have to be so hard?

Seeing Red said...

A lot of voters got burned on the initial Obamacare vote cos their reps lied.

The voluntarily or not-so-voluntarily retired.

People don't forget.

khematite said...

The court seems to want to introduce some kind of de facto proportional representation into a system of elections by districts with plurality vote winners that cannot sustain that. The "cube rule" pretty much guarantees that, in a two-party system, the party that wins more votes will have a disproportionately large share of the elected representatives while the party with fewer votes will have a disproportionately small share. Gerrymandering may exacerbate that, but getting ridding of gerrymandering will not eliminate the underlying disproportionality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cube_rule

Joe said...

If there is one reason to amend the constitution, besides getting rid of the 16th and 17th amendments, it is to get rid of the recess appointment clause, which is no longer needed and is widely abused. (Especially since a plain reading is that the vacancy happen during a recess, not the appointment.)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

While voter concentrations certainly play a part, I would certainly assume that the Republicans are doing what they can, within plausible deniability, to give themselves an advantage, just as the Democrats would, given the chance.

Here is a map of Wisconsin legislative districts.

Zoom in around Milwaukee and look at districts 14, 13, 15, & 84 along the western side of the city. If you divide that area up into squares instead of rectangles you would probably get two Republican and two Democratic districts. The way it is now give four Republican districts.

If I had to guess, the most natural carving up of that region based on existing geographic and political lines would give three Republican and one Democratic district, but that is just a rough guess.

Big Mike said...

Are any of the Wisconsin districts worse than Maryland's Third Congressional District?

Gahrie said...

Without gerrymandering, there would be very few democrat black representatives.

Every Democratic minority member of Congress is elected from a Gerrymandered safe district and every Republican minority member of Congress is elected from a majority White district.

Harold said...

Gahrie said...

Every Democratic minority member of Congress is elected from a Gerrymandered safe district and every Republican minority member of Congress is elected from a majority White district.


A little known fact to liberals, but well known to conservatives. That particular bit of information should be enough by itself to cause severe cognitive dissonance in the minds of anyone accusing Republicans and Conservatives of being the racist bigots. It's prima facie evidence racism lies on the other side of the political divide.

protestmanager said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Here is a map of Wisconsin legislative districts.

Blogger Big Mike said...
Are any of the Wisconsin districts worse than Maryland's Third Congressional District?

The closest is 83, and it's not all that close. So far as I can tell, every single Assembly district is part of 1, and only 1, Senate District. If this one's "illegal", IL, MD, and CA are really illegal.

This is a flat out dishonest ruling

tim in vermont said...

Well you can get a Democrat judge to find anything. If you look at those borders you don't see anything that looks anything like a salamander, so I am thinking what the judge wants is districts *gerrymandered* to increase Democrat power.

Here's one that looks like a crab in Florida.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida's_congressional_districts#/media/File:Florida_US_Congressional_District_20_(since_2013).tif

It is a Democrat majority district represented by a former judge who was impeached for taking bribes.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Do Democrats crowd together or does the crowding together create Democrats?

Steven said...

Any appointments made in this fashion expire at the end of the next Senate session. So a Garland appointment on January 3 would last until December 2017, the end of the first session of the 115th Congress.

Second sentence there does not actually follow from the first. If Congress decided to adjourn for the year on, say, January 21st, the session and any existing recess appointments would end right then. Then Trump could use Article II, section 3 to make Congress reconvene.

Fritz said...

I look forward to the application of this ruling in Maryland.

Fritz said...

Left Bank of the Charles said...
Do Democrats crowd together or does the crowding together create Democrats?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_sink

The ethologist John B. Calhoun coined the term "behavioral sink" to describe the collapse in behavior which resulted from overcrowding. Over a number of years, Calhoun conducted over-population experiments on Norway rats (in 1958–1962) and mice (in 1968–1972). Calhoun coined the term "behavioral sink" in his February 1, 1962 report in an article titled Population Density and Social Pathology in the Scientific American weekly newspaper on the rat experiment. Calhoun's work became used as an animal model of societal collapse, and his study has become a touchstone of urban sociology and psychology in general.

In the 1962 study, Calhoun described the behavior as follows:

“ Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. [...]
The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

[...] In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.[5]

Big Mike said...

@tim, Florida's districts are perfectly reasonable when contrasted with the state of Maryland's congressional districts. The third and fourth are especially, egregiously non-contiguous, but look also at the second, seventh, and eighth.

@Fritz, don't hold your breath.

n.n said...

Disenfranchisement can happen in different ways: emigration reform, including refugee crises, illegal immigration; eminent domain through redistributive change, regulatory bias; [class] diversity including legal and institutional racism, sexism, etc. Americans have grown intolerant of having their civil rights violated through diverse means by people with purportedly good intentions.

Joe said...

For entertainment purposes: https://www.buzzfeed.com/qsahmed/the-10-most-gerrymandered-districts-in-america-dh45?utm_term=.ofDoRqj25D#.cvrjyBn9Jw

Paul McKaskle said...

Looking at the map of Assembly Districts around Madison, District 79 appears to have a number of "islands" located inside District 78. I don't think this was a result of partisan gerrymandering because Madison is heavily Democratic and both districts elect Democrats by a large margin. The Senate Disticts in the area also have "islands."

Is there an explanation for this--I don't think there is a constitutional issue but contiguity has been a strong tradition in the U.S.

Rich Rostrom said...

"So a Garland appointment on January 3 would last until December 2017, the end of the first session of the 115th Congress."

Who says the session has to run until December 2017?

The first sessions of the 106th, 105th, 103rd, 101st, and 98th Congresses all ended in November.

In earlier eras, the first session ended in October (89, 82, 81), September (87, 86), August (85, 84, 83, 79), or even earlier. The 73rd Congress had a special session from 4 March to 6 March 1933, then a first session from 9 March to 15 June.

If Obama makes such "recess" appointments, the new Congress can declare that its first session ends ten minutes after convening on 4 January.