Supremes To Kill Redistricting Reform?

I’m not a big believer in gerrymandering being the problem that creates all political evil, or in “independent” redistricting commissions–which are much harder to arrange in reality than in theory–as the solution.

Still, I agree with Norm Ornstein that a Supreme Court decision guaranteeing state legislatures an absolute monopoly over redistricting–which could happen in the current term–would be a bad idea, if only because of the inherent conflict of interest arising when such legislatures draw their own maps for their own districts.

The Supreme Court has taken up a case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, challenging the constitutionality of the commission. If the Court strikes down the Arizona commission, it will also mean the end of the California commission, and of any future efforts to bypass self-interested legislatures to reform the redistricting process.

Even if independent commissions are not the panacea they are often cracked up to be, it’s a good idea to maintain at least the threat of another avenue for redistricting insofar as the courts have made it clear there are virtually no limits on how grossly political legislatures can be in map-drawing so long as the one-person, one-vote rules are maintained.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.