Due to SCOTUS: The Math of Total Disenfranchisement

  • Due to SCOTUS:  The Math of Total Disenfranchisement

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is indeed not Supreme, but that States should determine their own district allocations or gerrymandering.  We will review the present consequences of that.

One objection that I read to the ruling went back to the fourteenth Amendment of 1868, which guaranteed equal representation under the law.

There is also Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution, which states:  “The Times, Place and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of Chusing Senators.”  The Voting Rights Act was such an effort, so the Supreme Court should have some Jurisdiction here.

My objection to the Federalist Society, er, SCOTUS, ruling on gerrymandering goes back to 1773, and the Boston Tea Party, and the slogan “No Taxation Without Representation”.  Clearly, if citizens of a state are prevented from having proportional representation in the House, they are being Federally taxed without representation.  

This ruling follows the SCOTUS stripping the Voting Rights Act of 1965 of oversight over states with a past record of racially discriminating voting practices.

Then there was the Citizens United Ruling that stretched our imagination that Corporations had the same rights as humans, and therefore could donate arbitrary amounts of money to political campaigns.

It’s “nice” that the Court withheld approving a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census, but it did not rule it out in the future.  I think that they rejected the argument, which was presented based on the Voting Rights Act, because in the redistricting ruling, they were ignoring the Voting Rights Act.  They had also gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.  Richard Hansen, UC Irvine Law expert on voting, thinks that Trump can delay the printing until October, and ask the Supreme Court for a new, quick ruling in September.  In the Court’s opinion, it said that the Administration had the right to include such a question.  Seventeen states sued to prevent the Citizenship question.

In any case, it is possible that some damage has already been done, and that people related to non-citizens or undocumented immigrants will already shy away from the census.

Is there a significance to the Supreme Court issuing the Citizenship Question ruling on the last day of the term, knowing full well that the Census printing was going to start in a few days?  And that the Commerce Department would not have time to change their justification in this Supreme Court term?  Did they disbelieve the argument that the printing had to start right away as the government argued?  Was this part of a compromise?  Was the Trump administration just trying to suppress the count of the people in immigrant states?  Or, was it actually going to argue that only citizens should be counted in the census?

There are 27 states with Republican Governors, and 23 states with Democratic Governors.  Republicans control 30 state legislatures, and Democrats control 18.

California has 7 Republican Representatives, down from 14 before the 2018 midterm.  There are 46 Democratic California Representatives, totaling our 53 Representatives, since California has 12% of the US population and is the largest state.

Some comments on the SCOTUS ruling suggested that California redistrict to become all Democratic.  They don’t realize that California has an impartial redistricting accomplished, and there are few districts that aren’t already Democratic.

In Republican dominated states, they usually take the Packing Option of putting all urban Democrats into as few districts as possible, and then weighting the other districts as assured Republican majorities.   This can disenfranchise Democratic suburbs, which are then trapped in Republican districts.  A severe example of this, is North Carolina, which has 10 Republican and 3 Democratic Representatives.  Yet Trump only won with 49.83% to Clinton’s 46.17%.  In the three Democratic districts, Clinton won at 67% or 68%.

The other option is to dissect urban Democrats into many districts, each of which has a slimmer Republican majority, and becoming a totally Republican Represented state.  This is risky for Republican Representatives, since they have slimmer margins, and they prefer sure things.  They also don’t have to hear from disenfranchised constituents, or have to raise money and run a real reelection race.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in 2018 Midterm Election, 2020 Election, Constitution, Equal Treatment Under the Law, Gerrymandering, Governors and State Legislatures, Mathematics. Bookmark the permalink.

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