Skip to main content

View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-Up (149 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Voting Rights Act Focuses On Race Not Party (0+ / 0-)

    Interesting couple of paragraphs from this October Atlantic article.

    ... The Tar Heel State has a history of election discrimination and is therefore one of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that electoral maps be approved by either a federal court or the Justice Department. (Like all other states, North Carolina is also covered by Section 2, which forbids discriminatory practices more broadly.) Hofeller and the other Republican mapmakers therefore took particular care not to “retrogress” the racial makeup of the districts represented by the African-American Democrats G. K. Butter­field and Mel Watt—since doing so would have meant running afoul of the Voting Rights Act.

    Progressive groups immediately filed suit challenging the North Carolina maps, contending that the state deliberately diluted minority voting power. Hofeller happens to be an old hand at redistricting litigation, and the maps will probably survive into the next decade. (Meanwhile, in a dazzling show of circular logic, Phil Berger, the top Republican state senator, recently refused to allow consideration of a redistricting-reform bill that he had supported back when his party was in the minority, citing the fact that North Carolina is “engaged in litigation on that issue.”)

    Still, legal battles have been the other major factor in diminishing the Republican Party’s success. Given that blacks and Latinos tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, Republicans have often taken pains to maximize their control of the districts in a way that does not violate the terms of the Voting Rights Act. But the new census results have presented the GOP with a particularly confounding puzzle—one that lies at the center of this cycle’s redistricting controversies. On the one hand, the biggest gains in U.S. population over the past decade have been in two Republican-controlled states: Florida, which thereby received two new congressional districts, and Texas, which was granted a whopping four.

    But on the other hand, most of each state’s new residents are African Americans and (especially) Hispanics. In Texas, the population has swelled by 4.3 million over the past decade. Of those new residents, 2.8 million are Hispanic and more than half a million are African American. While those groups grew at a rate of 42 percent and 22 percent, respectively, the growth in white Texans was a meager 4.2 percent. In other words: without the minority growth, Texas—now officially a majority-minority state—would not have received a single new district. The possibility that a GOP map-drawer would use all those historically Democratic-­leaning transplants as a means of gaining Republican seats might strike a redistricting naïf as undemocratic.

    And yet that’s exactly what the Texas redistricting bosses did last year. Shrugging off the warnings of Tom Hofeller and other Washington Republicans, the Texans produced lavishly brazen maps that resulted in a net gain of four districts for Republicans and none for minority populations. The entirely predictable consequence is that the Texas maps have spent more than a year bouncing between three federal courts, including the Supreme Court. The legal uncertainty has had national ramifications. It meant, for example, postponing the Texas primary from March 6 until May 29, which cost Texas its role as a prominent player in the Super Tuesday presidential sweepstakes—a very lucky break for the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, who likely would have lost the state to Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.

    •  I think it works for us either way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy

      since minorities mostly vote Dem. Anytime minorities are disenfranchised through unfair redistricting, so is the Democratic party. So these cases don't have to mention parties, even though that's the implication.

      Just because it's a tough legal fight doesn't mean we can't win it eventually.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:55:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site