Texas Womans University Redistricting Process Discussion
2. Students then must post thoughtful replies to two other student’s posts asking questions or adding more thoughts to their material (200 word minimums).
Since the early 1800s, partisan redistricting has been a point of contention. It continues to be even more so today.
Explain how the United States House redistricting process works. How often does it happen? Who decides when it happens? Is it the same for every state? You can visit the following
link (Links to an external site.)
in order to read about this.
The Supreme Court has ruled on a recent case on partisan gerrymandering. The case was Rucho v. Common Cause. Read the syllabus on this case by clicking on the link to
Rucho v. Common Cause (Links to an external site.)
. You can also see the case in Oyez at
Rucho Oyez (Links to an external site.)
. After visiting these sites, discuss what the Supreme Court held. Then summarize why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did.
In your opinion, should the Supreme Court end hyper partisan gerrymandering? Why or why not? Is this the same as gerrymandering to discriminate by racer? Why or why not? Does the idea of partisan gerrymandering jeopardize the idea of “One Person, One Voter?’ If so how, if not why not? Click on this link (Links to an external site.)to see an overview of One Person, One Vote.
Finally, there are a handful of states that utilize non-partisan or bi-partisan committees to avoid partisan gerrymandering. Discuss how these states do this and has it helped? What are other ways we could take avoid the partisanship in redistricting House congressional districts?
To explain how the United States House redistricting works one must understand what the term
“redistricting” indicates. Redistricting is the process in which new congressional and State legislative
district boundaries are established. These boundaries we change in our district reflect on who
represents us. In many cases the State legislature has the power to control the redistricting process for
both state and congressional districts. The amount of states that have control over their own primary
districting lines is 34 states, leaving 39 legislatures in control of control of congressional lines in their
own state. Just like legislation these lines are passed and can be vetoed by the Governor. Under close
observation the legislative leaders examine the drafts. Members from the US house of representatives,
state legislatures and local legislators are elected from districts. The districts divide the state which also
leads to dividing the people into geographical territories. Congressional redistricting happens every ten
years. Depending on the situation there are different government entities that step in and decide and
make the decision of drawing the lines in districts in different states. Advisory commissions are
appointed to help legislator determine where district lines should be drawn. There are special
procedures in place to help draw state district lines. Backup commissions have a influence afterwards
the advisory commission, these backup commissions all vary from state to state. Political commissions
are used in the congressional districts. Independent commissions draw both state and federal districts
using an independent commission, with regulations limiting direct participation by elected officials. Each
state is different when it come to redistricting and varies from state to state based on procedures and
situations that may appear during the process. Gerrymandering occurs when the boundaries of
redistricting is manipulated to favor one party or class. In the Supreme court case Rucho v Common
Cause the Supreme court held that partisan gerrymandering claim presented political questions beyond
the reach of the federal courts because they lacked judicially discoverable and manageable standards
for resolving them. The Court stated that the Constitution assigns electoral districting problems to the
state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress, with no suggestion that the
federal courts had a role to play. “While federal courts can resolve “a variety of questions surrounding
districting,” including racial gerrymandering, it is beyond their power to decide the central question:
when has political gerrymandering gone too far. In the absence of any “limited and precise standard” for
evaluating partisan gerrymandering, federal courts cannot resolve such issues”(Rucho v Common
Cause). In my opinion I believe that the Supreme Court should end hyper partisan gerrymandering as it
has the ability to draw district boundaries as it is favored by on political party. If the decision of where
boundaries are drawn depending on the favored party this can lead to districts not being able to be
represented by the affiliated party they elect. Then again this can be a grey area as the courts are un
able to resolve such issues as they lack discoverable standards. In addition I do believe the idea of
partisan gerrymandering does jeopardize the idea of “one person, one vote”. American are firm
believers in voting rights and insure that fairness and equality is established in the courts. I would have
to say that gerrymandering has a destructive impact on American democracy and maybe even
unconstitutional. American should all deeply care about fair elections because if elections are fraudulent
and not fair then that means that our right to vote is doing no good in the American democracy. The
purpose of voting in a democracy is so that the people can elect the officials that they want to be
represented by. Ultimately the people that we vote and elect for are the ones in control of a district.
“Rucho v. Common Cause.” Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/2018/18-422. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
How the United States House Redistricting Process Works
Redistricting is how states establish new congressional districts or redesign current district lines
to account for differences in the state’s population and state House seats. State laws usually control the
procedural aspects of redistricting, and state redistricting procedures differ in terms of the
methodologies used to create districts, the schedule for redistricting, and the players participating in the
process (Eckman, 2020). Cartographers often have to make trade-offs between different redistricting
considerations, which may add another layer of complexity to the already challenging work of
guaranteeing “fair” allocation for district inhabitants (Eckman, 2020). Despite advancements in
technology that make it simpler to create districts with increased demographical accuracy, the entire
redistricting work remains hard and, in many cases, contentious. For instance, a handful of states
experienced legal hurdles to congressional district maps developed after the 2010 census.
Supreme Court Ruling on Partisan Gerrymandering
District court judges declared in 2016 that North Carolina’s legislative map was unconstitutional,
citing the plaintiffs’ claim that it was the outcome of political bias. North Carolina’s Senate redistricting
committee chair Robert Rucho appealed the district court’s judgment to the Supreme Court because the
Court had prevented North Carolina from using the plan beyond 2018. (Rucho v. Common Cause, n.d.).
Allegations of partisan gerrymandering are unjusticiable since they raise a political matter outside the
jurisdiction of the federal courts. Chief Justice John Roberts read the majority opinion after a 5-4 vote.
The Chief Justice said that the federal courts are entrusted with settling matters and conflicts of
a judicial context and not political issues because they are “nonjusticiable.” Partisan gerrymandering
prevailed even before the United States gained independence, and its framers recognized this fact by
empowering state legislatures to address gerrymandering problems but overseen by the federal
Congress. While federal courts have the authority to address “a range of districting issues,” notably
racial gerrymandering, they lack the authority to address the underlying question: when has partisan
gerrymandering moved too far (Rucho v. Common Cause., n.d.). A “limited and specific criteria” for
examining political gerrymandering is lacking.
Notably, Justice Elena Kagan submitted a dissenting opinion. Justice Kagan chastised the Court
for dodging a fundamental issue about the infringement of “the rights to engage fairly in the political
process, associate with others to promote legislative convictions and pick their political candidates”
(Rucho v. Common Cause., n.d.). Justice Kagan said that by declining to intervene in political
gerrymandering, the Court effectively encourages divisive and dysfunctional politics that may
irreversibly harm the country’s form of governance (Rucho v. Common Cause., n.d.). She contended that
the criteria applied in lower courts throughout the nation conform to the parameters of the “narrow
and specific norm” sought by the majority but purportedly not found. The Court merged this case with
Lamone v. Benisek, No. 18-726, and issued a single decision resolving both.
Should the Supreme Court end Hyper Partisan Gerrymandering?
In my opinion, the Supreme Court should end hyper-partisan gerrymandering because it has
grown into a national scandal. For decades, congressional and legislative districts in states like Ohio have
fallen victim to the same “winner-takes-all” folly, especially after the 2010 census (Stephanopoulos &
Warshaw, 2020). By declaring hyper-partisan illegal, the Supreme Court could aid in restoring
representative government and resurrect one person, one vote. Hyper partisan gerrymandering is the
same as racer gerrymandering because it enables elected officials to choose their voters rather than vice
States that Utilize Bi-Partisan or Non-Partisan Committees to Avoid Partisan Gerrymandering
Today about 21 states in the United States have established some non-partisan or bipartisan
redistricting committees. Thirteen of them are using redistricting commissions to engage in redistricting
and gerrymandering. The unique method has become a critical factor in determining swing states in the
presidential elections. For instance, Iowa has been using a unique redistricting technique that excludes
state legislature and commissions to whittle down the influence of political players in the entire process.
A case launched at the Supreme Court in 2015 made the finding that bipartisan redistricting
commissions, like the one utilized in Arizona, were constitutional (Grose & Nelson, 2021). These states
have benefited from independent commissions because their districts are divided more fairly. Partisan
gerrymandering can also be counteracted by increasing the size of each district (Kristie, 2015). As
populations grow in different states and resource distribution brings political and economic conflicts,
gerrymandering will become complex and a political affair.
Eckman, S. J. (2020). Apportionment and Redistricting Process for the US House of Representatives.
Congressional Research Service. https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R45951.html (Links to an
Grose, C. R., & Nelson, M. (2021). Independent Redistricting Commissions Increase Voter Perceptions of
Fairness. Available at SSRN 3865702. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3865702
(Links to an external site.)
Rucho v. Common Cause. (n.d.). Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2018/18-422 (Links to an external
Stephanopoulos, N. O., & Warshaw, C. (2020). The impact of partisan gerrymandering on political
parties. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 45(4), 609-643.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/lsq.12276 (Links to an external site.)
Kristie. (2015). Voters, experts agree: It’s time for an independent redistricting commission. Public
Sector Consultants. https://publicsectorconsultants.com/voters-experts-agree-its-time-2/