Monday, January 21, 2013
In a few States voters have gotten rid of legislative gerrymandering by putting the setting of district boundaries in the hands of non-partisan citizen commissions. This reform is not easy to achieve in many States. The reform has to be accomplished either by an act of the legislature itself (very unlikely!) or by initiative (difficult in many States). Some gerrymanders are so blatent that federal courts have voided them because they violate the federal laws regarding boundaries of Representative districts. However, these remedies are based on the idea of creating districts in which "minorities" will be able to elect members of their own group.
A better remedy would be a federal law - perhaps an amendment to the Voting Rights Act or perhaps an Amendment to the Constitution - that requires that an acceptable scheme for electing Representatives is one in which the partisan make-up of each State delegation is close to the partisan vote in the most recent election. This result can be accomplished either by a non-partisan commission to establish boundaries or by electing the entire State delegation at large by proportional representation.
In the mean time, let us not hesitate to remind the majority leaders of the House that their majority is based on a rotten borough system of representation, and that they do not have a moral mandate to carry out some of their more egregious changes, such as replacing Social Security and Medicare with voucher or private savings plans.
I welcome your comments.