Gerrymander Gazette: Taking a Mile Edition

The news in several states this week added to the mountain of evidence that giving political insiders an inch in redistricting will allow them to take the proverbial mile. Let’s look at the latest evidence that leaving redistricting power in the hands of elected officials causes nothing but trouble. 

  • In Florida, Republican legislators approved a congressional map Gov. Ron DeSantis submitted to them two days earlier. The map creates 20 Republican-leaning districts out of 28 and eliminates two of the four districts in which Black Floridians were able to elect their preferred candidates. Federal law prohibits racial discrimination in redistricting and the Florida Constitution prohibits partisan and racial gerrymandering. The first court challenge to this map was filed today. 
  • In Ohio, two Donald Trump appointees to the federal bench effectively rubber-stamped a Republican gerrymander of the state’s General Assembly districts. On April 14, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected state legislative maps submitted by the state’s politician redistricting commission for the fourth time because each map violated the Ohio Constitution. This week, the three-judge federal district court panel – with the Trump appointees in the two-judge majority – ruled that it would implement the third rejected map if the politician commission failed to approve a new map by the May 6 deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court. Read the decision here. This effectively eliminates any incentive the Republican majority on the politician commission had to draw a new map since an earlier gerrymander originally rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court will go into effect if they do nothing.   
  • In New York, a midlevel state appellate court upheld a lower court’s determination that Democrats in the legislature drew an aggressive gerrymander of the state’s congressional map in violation of the New York Constitution. Read the opinion on Election Law Blog. Democrats drew 22 Democratic-learning districts out of 26. After the state’s politician-controlled redistricting commission (which is officially misnamed as an independent commission) deadlocked along partisan lines, the Democratic majority in Albany drew their own districts. Although yesterday’s decision gave the legislature until April 30 to drew new districts, the New York State Court of Appeals – the state’s highest level appellate court – will hear the case on Tuesday. 

This newsletter has been produced by Common Cause and compiled by Dan Vicuna. Subscribe to the Gerrymander Gazette here. For more information or to pass along news, contact Dan Vicuna.

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