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Democrats must fight fire with fire on gerrymandering

The Democratic Party as a whole, Nir explained, has taken a very strong and clear stance against partisan political gerrymandering. In fact, proposed legislation from Democrats in Washington D.C., would outlaw gerrymandering nationwide on the congressional level. Every Democrat supports this bill; every Republican opposes it. As Nir elaborated, without national legislation banning gerrymandering, Democrats need to fight fire with fire:

So when we talk about maps, like the one coming out of New York that was created by Democrats that are—no question about it—it’s a gerrymander, and when we say anything praiseworthy about that, the reason why we’re doing so is because we don’t believe in unilateral disarmament, and we simply can’t engage in unilateral disarmament. Republicans in states across the country are putting in place extreme gerrymanders, and Democrats have to fight fire with fire.

If Republicans want to end gerrymandering, hey. I’ve got a great solution for them: they can sign on to the bills that Democrats are proposing in Congress and end it once and for all. But that’s obviously not going to happen. So let’s then drill down and talk about what Democrats are doing—like I said, to fight fire with fire.

Defensive gerrymanders have been a notable maneuver in several states as well. “The other thing that I want to point out about some of these maps, and particularly the ones that Republicans passed in Texas, they passed—in a number of cases—defensive gerrymanders. What I mean by that is, instead of trying to flip Democratic-held districts, they took competitive or potentially competitive seats held by Republicans, and took them off the playing field,” Nir noted. For instance, a district Joe Biden won by five points now becomes a district that Trump won by 15 points. Republicans did that to at least ten or a dozen districts in Texas, and in other states as well. “So when you’re counting the number of net gains and losses, you also have to look at, what are the other opportunities out there? Is the playing field getting smaller?” he mused.

Signorile mentioned other states where judges have stepped in and ruled that Republicans have wrongly gerrymandered the state. “That has to be something Democrats feel good about moving forward. Of course, they have to worry, I guess, about their own maps, but talk a little bit about that?” he inquired.

Nir expanded on two rulings in Ohio and Alabama that really helped Democrats, though he warned that we cannot fully rely on the courts to ensure fairness:

Ohio’s ruling was particularly fortuitous for Democrats. And the reason why I say that is, this was handled in the state courts, by the [state] Supreme Court. And that court actually has a four to three Republican majority. But the Chief Justice is pretty a moderate, reasonable Republican, and sided with pro-Democratic plaintiffs in this case to say that what the GOP had drawn there, both the congressional maps and the legislative maps, was a total violation of the state constitution. And she was quite angry, along with the Democratic members of the court. And one very good thing, also, is that a ruling by a State Supreme Court, generally speaking, can’t be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

There was also a favorable ruling in Alabama, favorable for Democrats. That would go on appeal to the Supreme Court, which of course, could overturn it. So, you know, so far the outcomes in the courts have been positive. But it’s never something you can really rely on, because you could find yourself in a state, or drawing a judge, that is a total hardcore Trumper who doesn’t really care at all about gerrymandering, or is a partisan GOP hack, and the next set of cases might not turn out as well.

Listen to the full episode here:



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18Dec
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