January 26, 2005
Gaddie on the re-redistricting review

Keith Gaddie, who commented on the reconsideration of the 2003 re-redistricting case here, has a guest post at BOR in which he expands on his initial remarks. He thinks the key to the review may not be the Pennsylvania Vieth case, but the Georgia Larios case. Check it out.

One quibble I have with Professor Gaddie:

In Texas, the old maps made a minority of votes into a majority of seats, whereas the new districts do not. In Georgia, the illegal map that was thrown out made a minority of votes into a majority of seats.

I guess it depends on how you define "a minority of votes". As has been noted before, under the old map six Democratic incumbents (including the now-Republican Ralph Hall) were winning in districts that were otherwise strongly Republican, meaning they got a lot of crossover support. To be sure, they had the advantage of incumbency, but they still couldn't win on Democratic voters alone. What we most certainly did not have was a map where any Democrat would have a natural advantage in 17 of the 32 districts.

Now, one of the original arguments made for re-redistricting (and this may have been Prof. Gaddie's point) was that a majority of Congressional votes overall in Texas went to Republican candidates, yet they had a minority of the delegation. True enough, even if the numbers cited at that time were a tad misleading, but by that logic we should have had an 18-14 GOP split, not the intended 22-10 division (again, this is probably Gaddie's point). We could have even achieved that 18-14 ratio had uber-DINO Hall switched parties a decade ago when he should have and had a couple thousand votes changed sides in the close CD11 and CD17 races of 2002. And of course that line of reasoning was dropped soon afterwards in favor of the argument that only the Lege can draw the lines, and from there it was an easy reach to a map with maximum partisan advantage.

Anyway. The argument is that the Texas and Georgia cases are otherwise identical. We'll see if the court agrees.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 26, 2005 to Killer D's | TrackBack


Thanks for the link-back on this . . .

FYI, the phrase "translates a majority of votes into a majority of seats" refers to the congressional ballots. This is intellectually consistent with how courts measure partisan intent: they look at ballots. Party registration, polling data on voter identification, are rejected because they are less-precise expressions of the intent of the voter.

The Texas remap is a partisan gerrymander because it disrupts the incumbent-to-constituent relationship for Democrats. Whether it is illegal resides in whether or not the change somehow dilutes or denies the vote in such a fashion as to deny the popular will (Larios) and also completely (or otherwise so detrimentally) deny repreentation to the minority (from the old Bandemer standard).

Stevens and Breyer are up to something, and they want to bring Kennedy along. They didn't get him on board until after the court reviewed Larios, which provided empirical evidence of how a court might recognize a partisan gerrymander. But now I think they have his attention.

I expect the district court will uphold the map, but I also suspect there is enough information left in question to warrant review by the High Court.

Posted by: Keith on January 26, 2005 1:02 PM