October 3, 2017

Today's in the Supreme Court: oral argument in the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case.

The NYT headline is: "Supreme Court to Hear Case on Wisconsin Voting Maps Warped by Politics."

Politics is warped by politics. But if you're looking for the courts to step in and unwarp politics, please keep in mind that the courts are also warped by politics, and if they get involved in unwarping politics, they may become even more warped by politics, and everyone may see that it's all politics and politics is inherently everlastingly warped by politics. And then we can be even more cynical than we are now.

But what do you say? Should we just take the plunge? Come on! It'll be great, because maybe for 10 or 20 or 30 years, we can embroil ourselves in litigation, with some of us irked by the delays and the expense to taxpayers and the endless questioning of democracy but some of us excited by the hope that courts will redraw the lines and make it fair at last. And won't that be great for all those long years before people realize the hope was hollow?

28 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

Voters broken down in Alphabetical Order.

Major voting blocks: Smith, Jones. Rodriguez, Wong.

I am Laslo.

traditionalguy said...

Politicians gotta politic. They have to do it to keep up the golden flow of donor money. Now, write a check or else.

buwaya said...

The more obvious adjustment is to modify the platform of the losing party to better appeal to more voters in other jurisdictions. The Democrats are too focused on appealing to highly concentrated, single minded urban populations.

Scott said...

She sounds a little cynical.

Amadeus 48 said...

'And won't that be great for all those long years before people realize the hope was hollow?"

Many people still believe that FDR ended the Great Depression and the Great Society helped black families. Who are we to take their hope from them?

rcocean said...

We all know how the SCOTUS judges will vote before it even begins:

Breyer, Wise Latina, Ginsberg, and Kagan will vote for whatever side helps the Democrats. Just like they always do.

Alito, Thomas, and Roberts - will vote for the Republicans.

Gorsuch and Kennedy will be the wild cards.

mockturtle said...

Excellent post, Ann! YOU should be writing editorials for the NYT.

Big Mike said...

Could someone clarify something for me? I was under the impression that the current Wisconsin map had already been brought up before the Supreme Court and (translated from legalese) okayed. What am I missing?

rcocean said...

We all know why this is happening. Democrat don't like the Republicans gerrymandering things. You know, doing what they've been doing for the last 50 years.

So they take it to court. Left-wing judges will of course rule against anything that hurts liberals or Democrats, cause Constitution.

End result: Endless Litigation. With a small hope the SCOTUS will bring sanity to the process.

Chuck said...

One of the greatest little posts in the history of the Althouse blog.

Freedom89 said...

I cannot describe how much I like and agree with this post.

Nonapod said...

some of us excited by the hope that courts will redraw the lines and make it fair at last

What's fair? We routinely grant more voting power to people based on their geographical locations, otherwise we'd just have a straight popular vote. Should we instead grant more power to people who pay more in taxes? Should we grant more voting power to people because of their racial backgrounds? Would that make up for all of our sins, real or imagined? Is all that fair?

Sebastian said...

"the courts are also warped by politics" But pretend they aren't, just calling balls and strikes, doncha know, assisted by law profs who pretend to derive newfangled "rights" from ancient provisions, when needed to override democratic deliberation and the outcome of actual popular votes.

Leftist hopes are never hollow: they just keep at it, until they get what they want, at which point the living constitution is dead, and stare decisis reigns, and everyone else STFU.

For the moment, the rule of law in the US is reduced to the rule of Tony.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'm sorry, but I look at that WI map and can't see the "partisan gerrymandering." It has to be extremely subtle stuff, because all I can see is roughly equal, roughly square districts. It's not like, oh, MD, where the gerrymanders are everywhere, and such as Gerry couldn't have imagined in his wildest nightmares.

I am told that, "Oh, it doesn't look gerrymandered, but it is anyway." Well, tell me how.

Eleanor said...

Divide each state up into voting districts based on land area regardless of the number of people living there. Give the earth equal voting rights. The climate change fanatics should be all for it. Why should flat areas have more voting rights than the mountains?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Why can't we just use a computer program that makes equal population districts in the most compact way.

Why are politicians allowed to choose their constituents. That is completely backwards.

Achilles said...

Won't matter after the voter rolls are cleaned up. Socialists have too much evidence around the world of what happens when they get power. Democrats are already a dying regional party and their voter fraud life support is going to be removed.

The media isn't going to be able to keep the country from finding out who paddock is for much longer either.

Drago said...

Big Mike: "What am I missing?"

The dems and their Lifelong republican allies have not yet won.

Ambrose said...

Interesting article - but the NYT comments are sad. Many readers don't seem to know the difference between gerrymandering and the electoral college.

cubanbob said...

Why is the court addressing this? There is no solution it can come up with that won't be subject to endless litigation and to further politicize and discredit the courts.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Dems are good at suing to change the rules. They are poor at winning honestly held elections.

They cheated in the South for decades. They cheated (and still cheat) in the inner cities.

They got out-flanked by GOP governors, so now they sue.

The Democrat Party is fundamentally dishonest (not sayin the GOP is all wine and roses - they have other issues).

Char Char Binks said...

You'd have to be geometrician to make head or tails of the districts drawn up by the Repugnicans. My God, PARALLELOGRAMS! That's VOTER SUPPRESSION!

pfennig said...

This is the system that we have. Deal with it. If we want to have a system like Germany with proportional representation, change the state constitution.

Paul McKaskle said...

Gerrymandering is bad but a court ordered alternative may well be worse. Already the Supreme Court has required that minority controlled districts have to be controlled by minorities but not dominated by them--a 60 percent or more minority district may be too much, but somewhere below 50 or 55 percent too little. An almost precise number of "filler people"--that is, people included in a district with the intention(!) that they have no influence or say in who is elected--have to be added to the district. (Talk about representative democracy, some people are intentionally dis-enfranchised by this approach.)

Adding "political balance" (whatever that is) into the constitutionally required mix would compound the line drawing problems immensely. The geographical problem is that both minorities and political affiliations are very unequally distributed. This is well illustrated by Wisconsin, Blacks are concentrated almost entirely in Milwaukee and both Milwaukee and Madison have an extremely large percentage of Democrats. Elsewhere in the state there are few minorities and a small but often decisive number of Republicans.

Achieving the "right" ethnic and political "balance" might, in many instances, require extremely non-compact district lines to get the right mix of, say, 55 percent Blacks in an urban district and not "too many" democrats by including a substantial number of Republicans (but not a majority) from the suburbs. There would be lots of room for mischief in drawing boundaries to achieve this goal, even by a judge.

Another problem is how to measure the deficit in voting power of a party. In the Wisconsin case the claim is that the Republicans won too many districts compared to their statewide vote. That was true of one election but in other elections the percentages are often different. The incentive to vote in some districts may be lower than in others--the incumbent is unopposed (or is otherwise safe), the incumbent has become controversial for some reason, there are no other important races or issues on the ballot in the district, the nature of a district may be undergoing change. A single election is a very imprecise measure of the degree of the deficit that a party may have suffered. (As just one example of the difference, using Wisconsin Presidential Race results, the Republican vote in 1980 was 48% and in 1984 was 54% and the Democratic vote in 2004 was 49.7% and in 2008 was 56.2%. What should be the measure for districts that will last for 10 years?)

If there is to be an over-riding Constitutional requirement for proportionality in the results, then the only constitutional remedy should be some sort of proportional voting system. This can solve both the political and racial representation problems. There are several proportional representation voting systems but if districts are drawn to elect as few as three representatives each they will be, in effect, gerrymander proof both as to race and as to political preference. (See 35 Houston Law Review 1119, 1181-1184 (1998)for an explanation of why.)

khematite said...

Althouse wrote:
And won't that be great for all those long years before people realize the hope was hollow?


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

Achilles said...

The court is unanimously packed with Yale/harvard grads. It is a tool to maintain the aristocracy. Roberts decision on Obamacare example number 1. He had to rewrite the law to make it constitutional but he found a way. Kelo. All of it.

The super smart judges were given a job. Read the constitution. They can't do it. It is a joke. Lawyers never should have been put in a position like that. They just don't have a moral core for the most part.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It's not over until we win.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Bill, Republic of Texas said...Why can't we just use a computer program that makes equal population districts in the most compact way.

"We" certainly can do that, Bill. As long as "we" don't mind being sued into the ground when it's determined that those mathematically-beautiful compact districts violate the rights of some protected group in some way.