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Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty

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This book considers the political and constitutional consequences of Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004), where the Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering challenges could no longer be adjudicated by the courts. Through a rigorous scientific analysis of US House district maps, the authors argue that partisan bias increased dramatically in the 2010 redistricting round after This book considers the political and constitutional consequences of Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004), where the Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering challenges could no longer be adjudicated by the courts. Through a rigorous scientific analysis of US House district maps, the authors argue that partisan bias increased dramatically in the 2010 redistricting round after the Vieth decision, both at the national and state level. From a constitutional perspective, unrestrained partisan gerrymandering poses a critical threat to a central pillar of American democracy, popular sovereignty. State legislatures now effectively determine the political composition of the US House. The book answers the Court's challenge to find a new standard for gerrymandering that is both constitutionally grounded and legally manageable. It argues that the scientifically rigorous partisan symmetry measure is an appropriate legal standard for partisan gerrymandering, as it logically implies the constitutional right to individual equality and can be practically applied.


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This book considers the political and constitutional consequences of Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004), where the Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering challenges could no longer be adjudicated by the courts. Through a rigorous scientific analysis of US House district maps, the authors argue that partisan bias increased dramatically in the 2010 redistricting round after This book considers the political and constitutional consequences of Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004), where the Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering challenges could no longer be adjudicated by the courts. Through a rigorous scientific analysis of US House district maps, the authors argue that partisan bias increased dramatically in the 2010 redistricting round after the Vieth decision, both at the national and state level. From a constitutional perspective, unrestrained partisan gerrymandering poses a critical threat to a central pillar of American democracy, popular sovereignty. State legislatures now effectively determine the political composition of the US House. The book answers the Court's challenge to find a new standard for gerrymandering that is both constitutionally grounded and legally manageable. It argues that the scientifically rigorous partisan symmetry measure is an appropriate legal standard for partisan gerrymandering, as it logically implies the constitutional right to individual equality and can be practically applied.

41 review for Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This academic look at gerrymandering—how to measure it, how one does it most effectively, and what exactly are its effects—was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press—yes, the British one. One author, Anthony McGann, is from Glasgow. The other three authors, Charles A Smith, Michael Latner, and Alex Keena, are all professors from CA institutions. For someone new to the term gerrymandering, this definitely won’t be the easiest entry, but to someone more familiar, it has enlightening bits. This academic look at gerrymandering—how to measure it, how one does it most effectively, and what exactly are its effects—was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press—yes, the British one. One author, Anthony McGann, is from Glasgow. The other three authors, Charles A Smith, Michael Latner, and Alex Keena, are all professors from CA institutions. For someone new to the term gerrymandering, this definitely won’t be the easiest entry, but to someone more familiar, it has enlightening bits. They talk quite a lot about Pennsylvania, one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country. You may have heard the State Supreme Court in PA deemed the congressional maps so egregiously gerrymandered they ended up providing a new map to a recalcitrant state legislature in 2018. After 2011 redistricting, though Democrats had won over 50% of the votes for congresspeople in the state, they managed to win only 5 of 18 congressional seats. After the Supreme Court passed down the new maps in 2018, Democrats won 9 of 18 seats. Actually, depending on where Democrats reside, there is no reason why 50% of votes should necessarily translate into half the seats. No one really cared if they didn’t. It was the relative skew that was offensive, and the ugly fact that the state legislators in office did nothing with their supermajority but pass innocuous resolutions, e.g., Dec 12 is Polar Bear Day, and Sept 13 is Healthy Heart Day, and avoid talking about the 18 cities in PA, including Pittsburgh, with lead levels higher than Flint, Michigan. In Pennsylvania (and Wisconsin and Michigan and…) today, voters must face the horrible problem of having their state legislative districts so gerrymandered that no one will even run against incumbents. We can’t even vote the crooks out. After the June 2019 SCOTUS decision not to deal with any more gerrymandering problems in federal courts, disenfranchised voters will be forced to bring maps redistricted after the 2020 Census through the state courts again. Meanwhile, nonpartisan volunteer organizations are blanketing the state with petitions to urge legislators to “do the right thing” and voluntarily give up their constitutional right to draw district lines, for the sake of fairness and democracy. So far, legislators haven’t shown interest in anybody's constitutional rights beyond their own. Claims have been made by some that the sorting voters do along partisan lines into cities and rural areas is responsible for the bias in results, not the intentional gerrymander. However, these scholars have concluded self-sorting is not responsible for the extent of the bias in results, and gives examples of several states also with city/rural dichotomies that do not exhibit partisan bias. Many states exhibit extreme partisan bias, Pennsylvania among them. There is a trade-off between seat maximization and incumbent protection. Regions with competitors packed into one district have extraordinary non-responsive voting blocks in the surrounding districts. "Put bluntly, if you can pack your opponents into a single district where they win 80% of the vote, you can create [surrounding] districts where you have a 7.5% advantage. It is notable that the number of “incumbent protection” districting plans declined sharply between 2002 and 2012. It seems that more states are districting for national partisan advantage, even though it makes their incumbents slightly more vulnerable." The authors make a distinction between partisan bias and responsiveness. “If there is partisan bias, then one party is advantaged over the other…If a districting system has high responsiveness, then it gives an advantage to the larger party, whichever party that happens to be.” Worst of all, in reviewing what I wanted to say about the pitiable position Pennsylvania’s manipulative legislators have left us in, near the top of the Top Ten Exhibiting Partisan Bias… worst yet is that the states above Pennsylvania in #4 place are states we never hear anything about. No, they are NOT Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin North Carolina, or Maryland. They are Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, states with large populations of black voters so used to being beat up and beat down they don’t even protest anymore. Of course the government is going to steal their vote. Oh, it is enraging. “…districting is mathematically a very, very difficult problem.” The California independent redistricting commission may have been partly modeled on the British iteration, called Boundary Commissions. Boundary Commissions are explicitly forbidden from considering partisan data when deciding their maps. This has actually led, in CA as well, to skews that were unintentional but partisan in fact. As a result, CA commissions have made the unusual request that they must consider partisan data in order to avoid it. A summary of the difference between Boundary Commissions and U.S. election districts and commissions: 1) Britain is not two party, which makes a huge difference in the attempt to gerrymander. People have been known to calculate their vote in order to stymie any gerrymander. That is, there is tactical voting. 2) A source of bias is not a gerrymander but is caused by differential turnout. “Labour tends to win when fewer people vote.” 3) Districts are not the same size nor same population as is required in U.S. congressional and legislative districts. This presents a small bias towards Labour. 4) The authors are not sure what the last advantage is: “If there is something about geographical distribution of support that has given Labour an advantage, it is not clear what it is.” One explanation…is that Labour appears disproportionately successful at winning close races. Anyway, they conclude there was a partisan bias for whatever reason after 2010, but it seems to have disappeared by 2015. The Boundary Commissions have no real effect at preventing partisan bias because it explicitly cannot take partisan bias into account: “Fairness between the political parties is not a factor that can be considered.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A book that lays out the road map for a legal challenge that partisan gerrymandering violates the "one person, one vote" principle protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Lays out the argument with great detail, but the book has some rather glaring editing errors that should have been corrected by the reprint version I read. I also would have liked the writers to address some other side issues such as how the constitutional amendment providing for the direct election of A book that lays out the road map for a legal challenge that partisan gerrymandering violates the "one person, one vote" principle protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Lays out the argument with great detail, but the book has some rather glaring editing errors that should have been corrected by the reprint version I read. I also would have liked the writers to address some other side issues such as how the constitutional amendment providing for the direct election of U.S. Senators affects their analysis, if at all. Overall, a good read for people concerned about the future of fairness in our elected politics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hava

    Essential reading for everyone.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vic Fernandez

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Sloan

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    Steven

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    Michael

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    James J. Veach

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    Adam Karapandzich

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    Lucy Christensen

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    Elizabeth D’Aloisio-Schmunk

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    Ellen

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    Peter D. Agnew

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Book

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    Maya Hamilton

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    Cory Brunson

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    Camille

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    Heather Bruch

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    Rob

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    Christopher Howard

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    Umair Mamsa

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    Christian

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    Charlie Germano

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    Page

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    Lynn Hughes

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    Jen

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    Jenn Klee

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    Nevona Friedman

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    Kelly

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    Katie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Cervas

  41. 5 out of 5

    Gray

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