User Tag List

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 12 of 45

Thread: Is Gerrymandering Unconstitutional?

  1. #1
    An Analyst& A Gadfly Yarn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Dawnland
    Posts
    7,893
    Threads
    424
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8
    Mentioned
    150 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Is Gerrymandering Unconstitutional?

    The origin of the term "gerrymander" is a redistricting law passed by the Massachussets legislature in 1810 and signed by Elbridge Garry whose purpose was to rescue the ruling Democrat-Republican majority from a widely predicted take over of the state government by the Federalists in the 1812 election owing to shifts in voter sentiment. As a result of Gerrymander law, the Democrat-Republicans won more than 70% of the state legislature in spite of getting only 50.8% of the popular vote.

    Gerrymandering consists of "packing" and "cracking". Packing consists of packing together some of the opposition votes into a small number of districts in order to make then redundant. Cracking consists of diffusing the remaining opposition votes over many districts so that it will always be accompanied by a majority of your own party. By combining these 2 techniques, gerrymandering decisively foils democratic will.

    It is mathematically possible, and judging from Elbridge's Gerrymander not all that uncommon, for Gerrmandering to allow a party with only 50% of the vote to win 75% of the representation. The more votes there are against you, the more constrained this becomes, but it can routinely deliver you a majority even when most voters oppose you.
    Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception - Charles Seife - Google Books

    According to the 14th Amendment:
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    Much like the poll tax, gerrymandering has been used to racist effect. It was commonly employed in the racist south, and elsewhere in the country, to nullify minority voting power. This is now illegal, thanks to
    the Voting Rights Act of 1965, additional federal enforcement and protections of suffrage for all citizens were enacted. Gerrymandering for the purpose of reducing the political influence of a racial or ethnic minority group was prohibited. Poll taxes for federal elections were prohibited by ratification of the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964, and a later Supreme Court case struck down poll taxes as a prerequisite for any election. Gerrymandering for political gain has remained possible under the Constitution.
    And the Supreme Court has specifically stated that Gerrymandering for racial reasons is unconstitutionl
    After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, some states created "majority-minority" districts. This practice, also called "affirmative gerrymandering", was supposed to redress historic discrimination and ensure that ethnic minorities would gain some seats in government. Since the 1990s, however, gerrymandering based solely on racial data has been ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court under the Fourteenth Amendment, first in Shaw v. Reno (1993) and subsequently in Miller v. Johnson (1995).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymander#United_States

    However, gerrymandering for partisan gain, as in discriminating against people on the basis of political affiliation rather than race per say, has remained legal. In spite of this clear double-standard, and the fact that gerrymandering clearly destroys democracy, both parties continue to get away with it. As recently as 2006, the Supreme Court ruled again, on a 7 to 2 vote, that effectively disenfranchising US citizens by enabling 50-50 votes to go 25-75, was perfectly legal.

    Gerrymandering is everywhere in the US. It is practiced by both parties and has been for more than 100 years.

    Is Gerrymander unconstitutional? And if so, how harshly should we criticize our judges for denying this?

  2. #2
    Ncp Rights Activist ironeagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    2,091
    Threads
    35
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    3
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    It doesn't matter since again, the Electoral College elects the president. The percentage of vote is based on the number of votes, therefore if the number of votes from one state being the same so shall the votes be and percentage be the same regardless of what district the vote took place. Voting should be done in a manner where all votes count as a number, not percentage.
    Saving the empovershed by empoverishing their counterparts will empoverish the whole.

  3. #3
    An Analyst& A Gadfly Yarn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Dawnland
    Posts
    7,893
    Threads
    424
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8
    Mentioned
    150 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The electoral college is determined by the state popular vote, so gerrymandering doesn't effect it, and it was not what I was talking about. I would've included the electoral college as potentially unconstitutional (because the 14th amendment trumps it if there is a conflict because every new amendment trumps every part of the constitution that came before it) but I didn't because the langauge of the 14th amendment clearly only applies to states. Federal senators aren't effected by gerrymandering either.

    What elections gerrymandering applies to include the house of representatives and all state legislatures.

    I don't happen to like the "Great Compromise" or the electoral college, since both lead to voter inequity, but I can't argue they aren't constitutional.

  4. #4
    Stephen Best barts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,626
    Threads
    1633
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    116
    Mentioned
    284 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Very interesting question.

    In my view, a strong legal argument can be made that gerrymandering is unconstitutional based on,

    AMENDMENT XIV

    Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

    Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

    Section 1.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    The purpose of gerrymandering is to deliberately deny "persons born or naturalized in the United States...equal protection of the laws" and to "abridge...the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." It is implicit in the right to vote that all votes are to be equal--as they are at the state level and national level when voting for Senators and the President and Vice President. If politicians have carved out Congressional districts in order to deprive the supporters of one party or another a vote that has equal weight as other citizens, arguably, that is unconstitutional.

    To demonstrate how unconstitutional gerrymandering could be (in theory) consider a Congressional district that wound all through a hypothetical state and included all the areas that supported the Republican party and included 2/3rd of a state's population. In same state, the Democratic areas are split up into, say, 50 districts that represent 1/3 of the state's population. The outcome would be on election day would be 1 Republican Representative representing 2/3 of the population, and 50 Democratic Representatives representing 1/3 of the population. Despite the fact the citizens of this hypothetical state are constitutionally supposed be treated equally before the law, they are not.
    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd - Voltaire

  5. #5
    Ncp Rights Activist ironeagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    2,091
    Threads
    35
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    3
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    A constitutional amendment does not overturn the Constitution unless the amendment actually makes such change( not with inference), and there are articles of the Constitution which cannot ever be amended. The State has the right to redistrict anytime is choses I believe.
    Saving the empovershed by empoverishing their counterparts will empoverish the whole.

  6. #6
    Lobotomized Angry Citizen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    11,142
    Threads
    182
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10
    Mentioned
    52 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I don't think it's unconstitutional, but I don't think it's in the spirit of democracy. We need to start allocating representatives to an entire state. Texas, for instance, would simply have a cadre of representatives, each allocated by proportional representation.

    If people want a personal representative at their beck and call, then the cadre can decide for themselves who "represents" a given district, but that district would not be the sole votes for that representative.
    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir, I exist!"
    "However," replied the universe,
    "The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation."


    -- Stephen Crane

  7. #7
    Ncp Rights Activist ironeagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    2,091
    Threads
    35
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    3
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Everyone's missing the two main points, the number of reps has nothing to do with anything, the house majority does, in congres, and in Presidential election, the number of congressmen has nothing to with the votes.
    Saving the empovershed by empoverishing their counterparts will empoverish the whole.

  8. #8
    Becoming Unstable Thanatos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Purgatory
    Posts
    7,047
    Threads
    614
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    28 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    If it's not unconstitutional to do this then I'm not sure why we bother having a constitution.

    This problem should be solvable with simulated annealing. Dividing a state into a couple of roughly equal chunks should not be rocket surgery.
    Doesn't that mean most people are trolls?

    No, it means most people on forums are called trolls at one point or another for stating their opinion honestly.

  9. #9
    Seek truth Apeman81's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Arizona, United States of America
    Posts
    6,491
    Threads
    127
    Post Thanks / Like
    Mentioned
    17 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    One needs to look at the individual state constitution for such answers.
    The tree of liberty is hungry. Let's feed it well in the next election.

  10. #10
    Lobotomized Angry Citizen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    11,142
    Threads
    182
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10
    Mentioned
    52 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Quote by: Apeman81 View Post
    One needs to look at the individual state constitution for such answers.
    State constitutions do not matter. Gerrymandering is a federal affair with federal consequences. The federal government, under the Supremacy clause, has jurisdiction.
    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir, I exist!"
    "However," replied the universe,
    "The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation."


    -- Stephen Crane

  11. #11
    Stephen Best barts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,626
    Threads
    1633
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    116
    Mentioned
    284 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Quote by: Angry Citizen View Post
    I don't think it's unconstitutional...
    Why? If citizens are to be afforded equal protection before the law, it seems to me that gerrymandering must be unconstitutional. The whole purpose of gerrymandering is to deny citizens their constitutional rights.

    It's not enough to simply state you "think" it's constitutional. Based on the Constitution, on what basis do you hold that view?
    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd - Voltaire

  12. #12
    Lobotomized Angry Citizen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    11,142
    Threads
    182
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10
    Mentioned
    52 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Quote by: barts View Post
    Why? If citizens are to be afforded equal protection before the law, it seems to me that gerrymandering must be unconstitutional. The whole purpose of gerrymandering is to deny citizens their constitutional rights.

    It's not enough to simply state you "think" it's constitutional. Based on the Constitution, on what basis do you hold that view?
    Sorry, you're right, I should have explained. The guarantee of equal protection is an individual thing. One (wo)man should have one vote. That is at issue with redistricting, and is in fact the whole purpose behind it. Each congressman was to represent something on the order of seven hundred thousand people. Indeed, that is why districts must encompass a certain number of people.

    Since gerrymandering is simply disenfranchising a political group through demographic analysis, nothing is violated. Blacks and woman do not have an explicit right under the Constitution to be a majority in some areas, nor do white men. But "one man, one vote" is enshrined throughout legal precedent, and gerrymandering - despicable though it may be - does not violate that one, key metric.
    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir, I exist!"
    "However," replied the universe,
    "The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation."


    -- Stephen Crane

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •