Courts Have No Business Interfering with Redistricting
We've had lots of redistricting plans. First there was the plan that has been in effect since the 2000 census. Then the one drawn up by the Texas legislature. Then the one proposed by the plaintiffs who alleged racial discrimination. Then the one drawn up by the three-judge federal court in Texas. Then the one, no doubt, that will be proposed by the federal court in D.C. And then the one that sits in the imagination of the Justices of the Supreme Court, against which all of these have been measured.
All of these plans, and the multiple trips to multiple courts, only underscore that the courts should never have waded into the swamp of redistricting. Judges can enforce something clear, such as the one person one vote rule. But beyond that, judges have no competence and no neutral principle to apply to political races. A judge cannot claim that the Constitution provides a rule that dictates how many Republican and Democrat congressmen should be returned by Texas. A judge certainly cannot claim the Constitution tells us what the racial composition of the Texas congressional delegation should be.
And when it comes to drawing the districts, it gets even worse. A judge cannot claim that a neutral rule, derived from the Constitution, instructs us what shape individual districts should be, what proportion of races or partisan affiliation it should have, whether it should combine cities with farms, or suburbs with beaches. These decisions are inherently and wholly political, and the courts undermine their commitment to neutrality and fairness when they decided to enter this field. The best thing that federal judges could do is declare all of it a political question and leave it to those best suited to answer it under the Constitution: politicians.