Supreme Court Allows Redistricting in Georgia

NY Times: "In a judgment that could eventually affect the composition of legislative districts in many states, including New York, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower-court redistricting plan for the Georgia legislature that benefited Republicans. The judgment seemed to upset a decades-old understanding that election districts were automatically safe from challenge under the court's one-person, one-vote doctrine if the largest district was no more than 10 percent larger than the smallest. The action, on the day after the court ended its official session, was called a summary affirmance; the justices' rationale could not be evaluated, since they issued no controlling majority opinion. The vote was 8 to 1, with Justice Antonin Scalia dissenting." Scalia the only dissenter? That's weird.

The Court Case that Could Reshape US Democracy

The UK Independent reports: "It bears the utterly uninformative title of Veith et al vs Jubelirer (docket number 02-1580). But the case, which the US Supreme Court heard yesterday, deals with the explosive political issue of gerrymandering - and its ruling next year could literally reshape America's democracy. Veith et al vs Jubelirer involves only Pennsylvania. The state's Democrats have challenged what they say is a rigged and unfair plan to redraw congressional districts, a move approved by Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled legislature after the 2000 census. But the case's implications are nationwide. At stake is not only control of the House of Representatives in Washington, but the very health of democracy. 'This is hugely important,' says Sam Hirsch, an attorney for the Pennsylvania Democrats. 'Gerrymandering on this scale is corrupting US democracy. This was not what the framers of the US constitution intended.'"

Dems Win Redistricting Battle in Colorado

"In a decision with national implications, the Colorado Supreme Court threw out the state's new congressional districts Monday saying the GOP-led Legislature redrew the maps in violation of the state constitution. The General Assembly is required to redraw the maps only after each Census and before the ensuing general election - not at any other time, the court said in a closely watched 5-2 decision that followed party lines. A similar court battle is being waged in Texas. Under the ruling, Colorado's seven congressional districts revert to boundaries drawn up by a Denver judge last year after lawmakers failed to agree... The justices chastised the lawmakers for claiming they should be able to redraw the maps 'two, or even 10 times in a single decade.'... Republicans now hold five of the state's seven congressional seats. Democrats hope to pick up two of those seats if they win the court fight."

Killer D's in Ohio Stop ANOTHER Bushevik Redistricting Plan

"Gov. Bob Taft and top Republican legislative leaders indicated yesterday that plans to change the map of Ohio's congressional districts are unlikely to get much attention at the Ohio Statehouse.... Republicans from northeast Ohio had been shopping around plans to redraw the lines that would target the districts of U.S. Reps. Sherrod Brown, D- Lorain, and Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland. 'To throw out carefully agreed lines after just eight months? This would be a dangerous new escalation of political partisanship,' said State Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, the Democratic leader in the House.... The talk of redistricting in Ohio attracted attention because of high-profile legislative battles in Texas and Colorado, where Republican majorities have sought to change congressional lines less than two years after they were drawn. Democrats in those states blamed the push on Rep. Tom DeLay, the U.S. House GOP leader, and presidential adviser Karl Rove."

Across U.S., Redistricting as a Never-Ending Battle

"Today, the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature opened an extraordinary special session devoted solely to redrawing the state's 32 Congressional districts. If Republicans succeed in doing so, they could remove five or more Democratic congressmen and help their party consolidate its hold on power in Washington. Republicans did much the same thing last month in Denver, pushing a new map through the Colorado Legislature specifically to shore up the seat of a freshman congressman who won office with a 121-vote margin. And Democrats are threatening retaliation in New Mexico and Oklahoma, while dropping hints about taking the redistricting battle to big-game territory: Illinois and California, where far more seats are at stake. This amped-up partisanship on the state level could soon make redistricting battles a recurring feature of the political landscape, experts say, reviving the 19th-century practice of redrawing political maps every time a legislature changed hands."

Virginia Republicans Are Going Back to the Time of Segregation: What's Next, Blacks Will Not Be Able to Vote and Have to Sit at the Back of the Bus?

"A Roanoke County Circuit Court judge declared portions of the GOP-authored redistricting of Virginia's House and Senate seats unconstitutional yesterday… the U.S. Supreme Court has said race could not be used as a "predominant factor" in drawing district lines. Pattisall found that the Republicans had indeed done that… 'The Court sees before it the unwarranted results of the multi-division of cities and counties; the nearly exclusive use of split precincts in the challenged districts; the failure to adhere to jurisdictional boundaries and keep communities of interest together wherever possible, and the retreat of the General Assembly from the application of traditional race-neutral redistricting principles,' Pattisall ruled." As always, Republicans are playing the race card - but this time they got caught. Will the GOP appeal to the Felonious Five? Stay tuned...