Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Voting Rights Act
As a practical matter, the Supreme Court has made this historic law history. The Court has expressed disdain for considering race prejudice as a remedy for gerrymandered voting districts or effectively discriminatory practices in deciding which students are allowed to enroll in prestigious law schools. What is to be done?
Well, one thing is to go after the practice of gerrymandering. This is a way of guaranteeing that a minority party will elect a majority of members to a state or national legislature. The way this is done is to place as many as possible of the majority party voters in a few districts, so that those few districts have overwhelming majorities of majority party voters. Then the minority party voters will be distributed in the other districts so that those districts will nearly always elect members of the minority party.
Right now we can replace "majority party members" with "Democrats" and "minority party members" with "Republicans." The Democrats outvoted the Republicans in the 2012 election. Because of the way districts had been gerrymandered in most states, the Republicans still managed to elect more members to the House of Representatives. It happened that in the year that the districts were redrawn (2011) the Republicans controlled the legislatures in many states. These legislatures drew the district lines to favor Republicans. Republican governors in the states signed the gerrymandered districts into law. The district boundaries will not be revised until after the next census in 2020 unless a convincing case can be brought before federal courts to disallow the gerrymandered districts and have the district boundaries drawn fairly. Getting rid of gerrymandered districts would help minorities who happen to belong to the Democratic Party or prefer to vote for Democrats achieve better representation in Congress and in state legislatures. This change would accomplish much of what the voting rights act was supposed to accomplish without anyone having to say squat about race discrimination.