When it comes to drawing an elected district, or re-drawing, whether it be a congressional, state or local seat, every process used is gerrymandering. The question is how much gerrymandering is too much gerrymandering that it becomes unconstitutional.
Virginia has been ordered by a court to re-draw state delegate districts before the 2019 election. Lawmakers will meet in Richmond this week to get to work. There is a lot of time between now and the 2019 primary season, so no big deal. Well, no big deal other than the lines have been drawn, both parties signed off on them, and there is nothing specifically unconstitutional about them, but a judge thought they needed a better version. What, how, and why is “better” is up to debate.
North Carolina has a different issue. A three judge panel of the federal circuit issued a 2-1 opinion stating that North Carolina’s congressional districts were drawn unconstitutionally and need to be re-drawn, now, before the upcoming November elections. It’s almost Labor Day weekend and congressional campaigns are in full swing in North Carolina yet now a federal court says an immediate redistricting plan needs to be created. That’s absurd.
The problem, according to two liberal organizations in North Carolina (Common Cause NC and the League of Women Voters) is that the congressional lines were drawn with political considerations. Well, no shit. Of course the lines were drawn using political considerations. The lines were drawn by a partisan state legislature, a body full of partisan political actors who were, and this part is very important, elected by the people to do their job of legislating. Among their job description is redistricting of legislative lines. So, of course, political considerations were taken into account; that’s how it’s done.
Judicial activism is a real problem. Our courts cannot become political bodies. They need to rule as referees, without passion or prejudice. This 2-1 opinion is obviously politically motivated as Democrats are sore about not having the votes for more favorable lines for their Democrat nominees. The opinion is under appeal.
The real problem is the court actually proposed delaying the November elections so that Democrats have a better chance at winning some seats. That’s undemocratic. In America, we don’t push back elections. This year’s November General Election needs to happen on Tuesday November 6. No court should be able to change that.
The national implications of delaying the election could be significant. Other than setting a horrible new precedent, the balance of power for the majority of the House of Representatives could be directly affected due to this absurd suggestion of not having the November elections. National organizations could pool their resources and dump a ton of outside money into North Carolina on new fundraising pitches if only a few seats are needed by either party to take control of the House. A well organized minority could then tip the scales in their favor.
North Carolina has drawn their congressional districts. They did so using political considerations. The law allows for this. Until there is radical redistricting reform, such as un-elected bodies drawing lines, then political considerations will be used to draw lines. Of course, any un-elected body tasked with drawing lines will be made up of appointees from, you guessed it, partisan lawmakers, so it is probably best to allow the people to hold those drawing the lines directly accountable by having lawmakers stand for election as the system is set up right now. We just need to stop electing partisan hacks and instead elect responsible statesmen who won’t fall into a hard-line partisan zeal when it comes to things like this.
Any way you cut it all redistricting is gerrymandering. There is no way around it. Pushing back elections is not the answer. This is America. We have elections on time and no court should be able to change that at the last minute.