Redistricting Reform Gains Steam – By Gabrielle Levy Dec. 1, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EST


Voters are fed up with the unfair way some states redraw districts – and the courts seem to agree.

Maryland residents Stephen Shapiro, right, and John Benisek stand in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, after a hearing in their case involving redistricting heard by the high court. Shapiro and Benisek are two of three Maryland residents who initially sued claiming the state's Congressional districts, as they were redrawn in 2011, violated their First Amendment and other rights.

Maryland residents Stephen Shapiro, right, and John Benisek stand in front of the Supreme Court after a hearing in their case involving redistricting on Nov. 4, 2015.

State legislatures are constitutionally obligated to redraw congressional districts every 10 years. But now, with an increased awareness of the potential for unfairness and abuse, voters are starting to push back.

Most states make the redistricting decisions themselves, and accusations of gerrymandering – drawing the maps to unfairly preserve majority advantage – are frequent.

Since the most recent census in 2010, lawsuits challenging congressional, state Senate or state legislature redistricting maps have been filed in 38 states; there were 37 such challenges following the 2000 round of redistricting.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court considered arguments over whether the Democrat-designed map in Maryland could be reviewed and potentially thrown out by a state panel.

At the heart of that dispute is the fact that the state’s political affiliation, currently 54.3 percent Democrat and 25.8 percent Republican, has changed only marginally since Democrats held a 57 percent to 29.7 percent advantage in 2000. And yet Maryland’s eight-member congressional delegation has gone from being evenly split between the parties 15 years ago to a 7-1 Democratic advantage now after two rounds of redistricting under Democratic governors and legislatures. One of the districts, which have survived reviews by federal courts, was recently described by a federal judge as resembling “a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/12/01/redistricting-reform-gains-steam?int=a14709

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