Tag: Gerrymandering

SCOTUS: The Next Big Case


Unless you’re a long-time legislative redistricting activist or watcher, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who the late U.S. Rep. Phil Burton (D-CA) was.

Burton, a hard lefty and an intensely partisan Democrat, enjoyed encyclopedic knowledge of California geography and demographics. Elected to the California legislature in 1956, he was in charge of redistricting right after the 1960 census. In 1964, he was elected to the U.S. House from San Francisco. Along with this brother and fellow U.S. Rep. John Burton, he engineered subsequent drawings of California’s congressional lines to ensure our largest state’s delegation was solidly Democratic, at least until he passed away in 1983.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome a new congressional map in New York that should give Republicans better chances to win more seats than the heavily gerrymandered version from Democrats that multiple courts have struck down. They’re also pleasantly surprised to see Russian President Vladimir Putin say Sweden and Finland joining NATO will not be seen as a direct threat to Russia. And Jim takes a deep dive into the skyrocketing cost of diesel fuel, what’s behind it, and what the consequences will be.

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Once upon a time, people who ran for elective office were in some sense (strict or loose, I’ll let you decide) representatives of the people who elected them. Once the integrity of the electoral process was breached however, and it was breached well before the 2020 election, a shift in the nature of things occurred. […]

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Someone with time, money, and skills should create a congressional redistricting AI that would draw congressional districts based only on population, and prioritizing compactness geographical continuity (taking into account county lines and geographical features like rivers and mountain ranges); completely disregarding voting patterns and partisan alignment.  It would be interesting to see how a completely […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America look at a bunch of new polling that shows America sharply divided on banning “assault weapons,” in large agreement on mental illness needing to be addressed, and a majority now liking the tax cuts.  They also rip the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for redrawing the congressional map of the state, ignoring the will of the people through their elected representatives and making the map much more favorable to their Democratic friends.  And they shudder as fears grow that North Korea may punish their Olympic athletes for failing to medal at the Winter Olympics.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy seeing Democrats get accused of caving in the shutdown standoff and seeing the avalanche of leftist criticism aimed at Chuck Schumer.  They also shake their heads as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules that the current congressional map is unconstitutional gerrymandering and a new map must be drawn, likely costing the Republicans seats.  And they’re disgusted as North Korea keeps finding ways to turn the Winter Olympics in South Korea into an opportunity to glorify its own communist dictatorship, and media figures like NBC’s Lester Holt seem only too happy to help.

Gerrymandering at SCOTUS


The Supreme Court has just heard oral argument in the highly anticipated case of Gill v. Whitford on the constitutionality of political gerrymandering. At issue is Wisconsin’s Act 43, a state redistricting plan enacted by a Republican legislature in 2011, which allowed the GOP to capture both houses of the state legislature in the 2012 and 2014 elections by turning a Republican vote of under 50 percent into a near 60 percent majority in legislative seats. But the act was then successfully challenged in federal district court before Wisconsin appealed to the Supreme Court.

In the case, the GOP relied on the familiar technique of partisan gerrymandering, long used by both parties, to fashion districts that force the opposition to “waste” its votes. The opposition racks up huge majorities in a small number of districts, enabling the controlling party to gain a larger number of seats by smaller majorities. One measure of the effectiveness of this technique is the much debated “efficiency gap.” As the challengers explain in their brief, that is “calculated by taking one party’s total wasted votes in an election, subtracting the other party’s total wasted votes, and dividing by the total number of votes cast.” The greater the gap, the greater the imbalance of wasted votes between parties—and the more likely that the gerrymandering will give the controlling party influence greater than its share of the statewide popular vote.

The Justices agreed in oral argument that this bipartisan practice is deeply unsavory. But then disagreement quickly set in about whether any possible cure would be worse than the disease itself, as Wisconsin stoutly insisted in its brief that decried the want of predictable remedial standards. Let a challenge succeed in one state, and similar challenges will be raised everywhere. Given the interdependence of district boundaries, changing one district could necessitate redrawing a state’s entire map.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America react to news of yet another terror attack in the UK which targeted British Muslims outside of a London mosque after their evening prayers for Ramadan. They also discuss the Supreme Court’s announcement that they will take up the partisan gerrymandering case in the state of Wisconsin to determine whether or not the act is unconstitutional. And they respond to Erick Erickson’s sensationalist comments as he refers to the left as “America’s ISIS” and advocates for state secession.

Gerrymandering for Political Advantage Struck Down in Wisconsin


district-mapsFor all but 2 of the past 33 years, Michael Madigan has been Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. From that perch, he’s built a political machine that has been able to control (or impede) the flow of legislation in the House and thus throughout Illinois government. Until the recent election, his caucus contained 71 members, a perfect 3/5ths super-majority capable of overriding any gubernatorial veto and sufficient to pass bills after normal session, when that number is needed to pass legislation out of the House.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote back in 2010 that Madigan’s power base depended upon a group of legislators known as the “Madigan 12”.  Those 12 legislators who resided outside of Chicago were the linchpin of Madigan’s power.

The 2016 election saw an erosion of that super-majority, with the Republicans picking up a net of 4 seats in the House (including your humble correspondent, who picked up the seat in the 63rd District). So it will be interesting to see how things shake out in January, when the 100th General Assembly convenes.

Happy Constitution Day!


Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, 40 men from 13 states signed the constitution produced by the Philadelphia Convention. On June 21 of the following year, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, thereby activating it. New York and Virginia quickly followed suit and North Carolina and Rhode Island limped in by the the end of 1789.

While there’s credit to go around, the true heroes of the day were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington. In a little-known part of the tale, the three of them hijacked the Annapolis Convention of 1786 — convened to help settle trade disputes and reduce tariffs between the states — and used it to call for a second convention to consider amending the Articles of Confederation. Largely through their leadership, that meeting overstepped its mandate and proposed an entirely new form of government. What Adams did to the Continental Congress in 1776, they repeated twice in the decade that followed.