Court Faults Redistricting Plan That ‘Packed’ Black Voters

Richard Wolf, USA Today, March 25, 2015

A deeply divided Supreme Court dealt a blow Wednesday to a Republican redistricting plan in Alabama that packed black voters into urban districts to dilute their impact elsewhere.

By a 5-4 vote and over the vigorous objection of its lone black member, the justices upheld the objections raised by Democratic and black lawmakers and sent the case back for further review by a lower court.

The decision represented a legal reversal of sorts from earlier decades, when the federal government forced mostly Southern states to create what are considered “majority-minority” districts more likely to elect black lawmakers. Now, the justices are saying it may be illegal to have too many blacks clustered in one district, at the expense of others.

“Given that it is 2015, this decision may not have much impact on post-Census 2010 redistrictings, but it will be an important precedent for the next wave of redistrictings,” said Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

A federal district court had upheld maps drawn by Alabama’s Republican state Legislature in 2012 that maintained or increased the percentages of black voters in black lawmakers’ districts–even though, as the challengers claimed, such high percentages were not needed.

But Justice Stephen Breyer, explaining his opinion from the bench, said “simply maintaining percentages in an effort to prevent retrogression . . . is too mechanical an approach.” He was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

A provision of the Voting Rights Act that, ironically, has since been rendered obsolete by the Supreme Court “does not require maintaining the same population percentages in majority-minority districts as in the prior plan,” Breyer wrote. “Rather, (the law) is satisfied if minority voters retain the ability to elect their preferred candidates.”

The majority opinion drew angry, 13-page dissents from Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the court’s only black justice. Scalia, joined by Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, called it “a sweeping holding that will have profound implications for the constitutional ideal of one person, one vote.”

Thomas’ separate dissent disparagingly said the case represents “nothing more than a fight over the ‘best’ racial quota.”

“Long ago, the Department of Justice and special-interest groups like the American Civil Liberties Union hijacked the (Voting Rights Act), and they have been using it ever since to achieve their vision of maximized black electoral strength, often at the expense of the voters they purport to help,” Thomas said.

{snip}

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  • Some think that this will deal a blow to race based gerrymandering.

    Not really, not practically.

    Hold my hand, and I’ll walk you through this.

    All it means is that SCOTUS has found that minority-favorable gerrymanders are not an implicit requirement of the Voting Rights Act.

    It does not mean that any such districts in existence now will be wiped out, and it does not mean that they will be specifically prohibited in the future. All it means is that if they’re not drawn, it’s going to be all but impossible for the NAACP et al. to use the Federal judiciary as a weapon to force their existence.

    However, they will continue to exist for at least a few more decennial redistricting cycles for two main reasons:

    1. Republican state legislators and black Democrat state legislators want them to exist.

    2. White Democrat state legislators, while they know now that their existence marginally hurts white Democrats, aren’t going to be in a much of a mood to work against their existence, because they’re too scared to tell blacks no.

    • Earl P. Holt III

      You can’t win with these bastards: Earlier Supreme Courts threw out Congressional Redistricting schemes that DIVIDED the black vote, and distributed it over multiple Congressional Districts. Now, they say you can’t concentrate the nigro vote.

      The truth is that the hard leftists on the Court — Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Breyer — are ALWAYS going to find fault with ANY Congressional Redistricting scheme that is not advantageous to their party, the communist party!

      The solution — when we get a REAL President — is to remove federal court
      Jurisdiction over state Congressional Redistricting schemes, using Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. To wit:

      “In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

      • Michael Robert Ryan

        Yes, Congress has been very remiss in using that power. It’s way past time to give these judicial tyrants a spanking.

      • ekwaykway

        The constitution was written not taking into account minorities. Which will soon be the majorities, so it is no longer valid. Democracy has and will again fail. One must consider the world as it existed when the Constitution was written.

      • MikeofAges

        The plan is, just enough minority voters to elect a minority representative, with just enough somewhere else in another district or two to allow the liberal minority within the white population to elect one of their own. How times and in how many way do you have to say it? Diversity is perversity.

        • Earl P. Holt III

          I hadn’t noticed that nigros were underrepresented in the U.S…

          • MikeofAges

            Not particularly, not in Congress or most state houses.

          • Earl P. Holt III

            Or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

          • MikeofAges

            Also true.

  • Publius Pompilius Quietus

    Gerrymandering is a long-standing practice in American politics, though it is corrupt. The difference between this and general gerrymandering is this is done on a racial basis. This is meant to marginalize white people’s political power.

    • MikeofAges

      It is impossible to draw a map that does not in someone’s estimation constitute gerrymandering. Even neatly shaped geographical districts can disguise who the voters are and where they live. Myself, I’ll go with districts that let the voters as much as possible elect someone who represents them. That means minority districts. Big city districts. Suburban districts. Rural districts.

    • Charles Martel

      Actually doughnut holes protected white local elections from voter fraud. The inner cities will always vote democrat/more free stuff but doughnut hole redistricting meant a million fraudulent votes in an inner city had no effect on local elections outside it. With this decision we need Voter ID more than ever.

      • voiceofstl

        Not for state wide elections. Look at Missouri the last votes that always come in are from the innercity Of KC and St. Louis and in many cases it will tip the win to the dems.

        • Earl P. Holt III

          I’ve seen Ballot Boxes from the near north-side take TWO HOURS to deliver to the Board of Election Commissioners after voting ceases: And even though they are accompanied by a police officer, the accompanying officer is always black in these situations…

  • MikeofAges

    Does anybody remember that several decades ago, minority leaders complained about the lack of minority representative in Congress and the state legislatures? The minority vote had been divided up among districts under Democratic redistricting plans. This resulted in the election of some additional number of white Democrats often representing otherwise predominantly conservative districts. It has to be one way or the other. Drawing heavily minority districts does not in my estimation constitute gerrymandering. It let’s voters elect representatives who represent them. That’s democracy.

    • LHathaway

      They’ve spent 40 years redrawing boundaries in order to increase minority voter clout. The amusing this is, educators and the media spent those 40 years Saying this too made people of color victims.

      • MikeofAges

        The problem is, you either create minority districts who can then elect their own as representatives, or you divide the minority vote among white districts which are predominantly conservative, but end up electing liberals or fake blue dogs because of the minority vote. Minority voter clout arises from the fact that there are minority votes. You have to think this out. Right now, because of the effort over several decades to create majority-minority district, the elected representatives in both congress and the state legislatures probably more closely represent their constituents than at any time in living memory. Every time I post this take on the issue, someone comes along with the same complaint you have voiced, but there really is no way out of it, except gerrymanders designed to so divide the minority vote that it’s influence is minimized. The Democrats would want to gerrymander districting to elect the maximum number of liberals in otherwise conservative districts . White liberals, of course. For four decades after World War II, the Democrat’s way of gerrymandering prevailed and they were able to control congress and most state legislatures. The creation of minority districts was a large factor in ending the permanent liberal majority in the U.S. House and in many state legislatures. Creating minority districts was a conservative idea. Conservative should not complain.

        • LHathaway

          Well the more recent ‘redistricting’ you are talking about is quite different than the 40 years or more redistricting done prior to that. All I know is I don’t believe a single word said about it, including what you’ve said about it.

          • MikeofAges

            The issue was raised in the 1980s both by minority leaders and by Republicans. Legal actions also were heard under the Voting Rights Act. My argument is, you can’t have it both ways. Either you have minority districts or you divide up the minority vote as described. I would rather see voters be able to elect people who represent them than see districts created where candidates who represent no legitimate majority of their constituents are able to get elected.

        • Not really, as it turns out. Remember I’ve written here in AR a few times about the famous study that the NYT had an article about last year. It fed the 2012 generic Congressional vote (slightly more D than R) into thousands of hypothetical maps ranging from crazy Democrat to crazy Republican to everything in between, and found that there were only a scant few crazy Democrat maps which would have resulted in a Democrat majority in Congress. It also found that the existing map in use this decade was a moderately pro Republican map but far from a crazy one, which makes sense because Democrats did control redistricting in some states. The political scientists who did the study concluded that the Democrats’ problem re Congress is that their loyal voters are clumped up in tight geographical spaces, not gerrymandering. I could add that the Democrats have lost the working middle class white, even though Republicans don’t have a lock on them, that’s a big factor.

          Gerrymandering is just the new crackpot left meme that excuses them from their own problems which they caused. When they don’t remember that it’s what they wanted, the racial gerrymandering.

          So how could we go from a situation where Democrats were in solid control of Congress even after Reagan’s 1984 landslide to ten years later it call changing and it staying that way save 2006 and 2008? Because since then, at the retail level, Democrats lost both the white Southerner and then the working middle class white non-Southerner.

          • MikeofAges

            I think that’s what I said. Districts appropriately should be able to elect people represent who represent them. From a conservative and Republican point of view, the idea of minority districts should not be considered gerrymandering. Nor is it. One of the points of having representative government elected by district and of having the electoral college is that prevent a political party which uses the control of the machinery of government to create a one-party state and one-party society from multiplying its influence beyond the numbers of the population of the cities, counties or states it controls. My opinion is, the Congress we have today is more representative of the electorate that it has been in a long time. That’s why there’s no compromise in Washington. Better that, though, than a Congress which does not represent the voters which elected it.

    • ekwaykway

      That is where democracy breaks down. Muslims grow in numbers, say in the UK, to 67% of the population. They vote in leaders who want Sharia law. They enact measures to enforce their beliefs legally because they have the majority. Hence democracy fails, huge flaw!

      • MikeofAges

        That falls under the rubric “One man, one vote, one time.” But that is an extreme case. More likely, Democracy fails when bloc voting allows a some group which does not represent a majority to control the electoral system. That is what happened here, where the white liberals who represent a distinct minority of the white have been able to rule because of their coalition with minority blocs which give huge pluralities to the Democratic Party. No wonder they scream their brains out when minorities start to vote for other party or working class whites vote their color. Well, from this point of view, it is the politics of the white liberal which has made a mess of the political system.

  • JP Rushton

    The obvious plan is to spread out the black vote to dilute the white vote.

    If the only requirement is a black majority, you could easily draw up districts so that blacks get to decide the vote in two districts instead of one.

    I assume this only covers blacks and other minorities because allowing whites to be able to choose who they want to represent them would just be evil.

    • Charles Martel

      By making inner city doughnut hole precincts it limits voter frauds effect in local elections. The inner cities will always be democrat so it doesn’t matter if one democrat has a few million extra fake votes. Use a pizza slice district inner city voter fraud could affect every local election in the area. Voter ID is needed now more than ever. We should tell the leftists that at a minimum the same rules for legally carrying a gun concealed should apply to voting to stop the dead from voting.

      • MikeofAges

        But also, minority voters give extremely large pluralities to the one party, the Democrats. More than 90 percent in the case of blacks. Depending on where you are, at least 60 percent in the case of Hispanics and Asians, usually more, with a few special exceptions. You don’t need vote fraud to produce the result you envision. Overwhelming minority pluralities will produce the same results because the white vote generally will divide in a more equal way even if one party predominates. You don’t need to make the kind of provocative and contentious argument you make to support the idea of minority districts. District should be drawn so that the voters can as much as possible elect people who represent them. Democratic gerrymandering and the division of the minority vote among multiple districts was the ongoing basis for the Democrats’ permanent majority in the House from 1954 to 1994, and in many state legislatures during the same era.

    • Sick of it

      If each district has blacks (or Hispanics) AND liberal whites, normal people will be left out in the cold. They don’t need massive concentrations of ethnic votes to win anymore.

    • KevinPhillipsBong

      I spent a long elevator ride with Prof Rushton at an AR conference once. I couldn’t think of anything valuable to say…but then again [at the time] I didn’t know my opportunity to converse would be so limited. Use your opportunities wisely, my friends.

    • phorning

      I don’t know if they will vote in the same numbers for a generic white Democrat as they will for a Shelia Jackson Lee or Maxine Waters.

      • John Smith

        Only black voters could vote for representatives who are so patently stupid as those two.

        • Secret Person

          Not to worry, hispanics do, too.

      • Charles Martel

        The Low IQ will always vote for more free stuff. Think of it as their one job to do every 4 years.

        • Earl P. Holt III

          TOUCHE` !

        • Jason Lewis

          Eventually the free stuff will stop. When it does I’ll have a hard time not smiling at the destruction.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            You still got credit.

          • Charles Martel

            You better have a years supply of food and ammo so you can keep smiling.

          • Jason Lewis

            You know it!

          • LexiconD1

            Frankly, why more don’t is beyond me?

  • Charles Martel

    This means Voter ID is more important than ever. Before voter fraud only actually affected major elections, but not local. If some inner city had a few million extra votes it didn’t chance the fact a democrat would be in office, but now it could affect elections in the suburbs. We should press the point that any restrictions on the 2nd amendment should also affect voting, 10 day waiting period, must show ID, not a felon.

  • KevinPhillipsBong

    Blacks vote lockstep, so increasing their proportion in a district increases their chances of representation. This is not a curse but a boon to blacks.

  • gooberboy9999

    How long until they begin crying about the black vote dilution? Which is why these districts probably exist in the first place.

  • IKUredux

    Blah, Blah, Blah. Look, what is next? Let’s make it so the Hmong have a voting bloc, whoops, did we leave out the Burmese? Cripes! What about the somalians? Hey, here is what I want to know, what about we Americans? What about us?

    Fellow Whites, do NOT vote for either party. Please vote the American Freedom Party.

    • Spikeygrrl

      I have never voted Dem and never will…and if the Reps nominate another RINO…well, suffice it to say that these are not rhetorical questions:

      1. How many States’ ballots was the AFP on in the last national election (2012), and for what offices?

      2. How many in the last State-level election (2014), and for what offices?

      3. How many are they predicting for the next national election (2016), and what are they doing right now to increase that number?

      4. How do they select their nominees?

      • TheMaskedUnit

        How many RINOs does it take to get through that Lindsey Graham is genuine GOP.

        • Spikeygrrl

          HUNH? What are you smoking, and where can I get some?

          Nobody has mentioned Sen. Graham until you just did.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            How many non-“Rinos” are in the GOP then? Pretty darn few.
            Be ashamed. Be very ashamed. Jeb Bush is your candidate. He is no RINO. He is your GOP.
            Enjoy your amnesty. Enjoy your GOP funded ObamaCare. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that federally mandated border fence.

          • Spikeygrrl

            Jeb will never be my candidate, nor will any other RINO.

            I don’t see how anyone could interpret my original post to mean exactly the opposite of what I actually wrote, but you seem to have managed it. Kudos on your active imagination!

          • TheMaskedUnit

            But Jeb isn’t the RINO. He’s the real republican. Michelle Bachman was the outsider. Ron Paul was on the outside. There are hundreds of Bushes in the congress. That is why they are so hated. Obama is only hated from one side. The GOP represents nobody … especially their voters.

            We need some Rinos or better yet an opposition party.
            If you think anybody in the GOP is on the right track … name 10. Name 5.

          • Spikeygrrl

            Define precisely what you mean by IN the GOPE and I’ll take that challenge. Do you limit it to only persons currently holding elective office, or do pundits and activists count to?

            Oh, and fair warning: I am not a hairsplitter or a litmus tester. I don’t expect anyone in either public or private life to agree with my every single nitpicky opinion. That way lies electoral suicide.

            So, if you must, bring it. But I really do not understand why you are attacking me on this. There are SOOOOO many people on this board who also want to see the RINOS gone; are you picking fights with them, too? And if not, why not?

          • TheMaskedUnit

            Will admit to having an (R) after there name.

          • Spikeygrrl

            I saw what you did there, and it’s sneaky circuIar reasoning. (I’m not at all surprised.) I already SAID no more RINOs, because we have elected too many of them already. That’s where this whole time-wasting exercise got started.

            You did indeed suck me in, troll. Your paymasters will be so happy.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            It’s not a trick. The vast, overwhelming number of GOP elected and not elected public officials can not by definition be “Rinos”. The Rino should be the rare exception, not the normal.
            Vote GOP and plan on being disappointed. Remember Roberts gave you ObamaCare.

          • Spikeygrrl

            Yes, they can. The GOP has lost its way, and it is up to We, The People either to correct that error or — in Hail Mary pass desperation — create a conservative-libertarian third party that actually stands more than the proverbial snowball’s chance in H€ll of being electorally significant.

            (And here I thought I was a pessimist. Sheesh.)

          • TheMaskedUnit

            If you continue to purchase a bad product, they’ll keep making it.

          • Spikeygrrl

            So, you’d rather just stay home and sulk? How mature of you.

            It’s people like you who in 2012 inflicted upon us another 4 years of Bathhouse Barry. You must be so proud.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            You only get to be one side of the discussion.

          • Spikeygrrl

            Fine. Keep talking to yourself. I will no longer be listening.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            When did you start?

          • Katherine McChesney

            Jeb is a leftist. One small move and he’d be a Democrat.

          • TheMaskedUnit

            He doesn’t need to have a (D). He votes that way regardless.

      • IKUredux

        You bring up excellent points. I don’t know the answer to the questions you asked. Here is what I do know. Voting for Republicans is a wasted vote. They are virtually no different than a Democrat. I want us to vote against both parties. I think it is more effective, than not voting at all.

        • Spikeygrrl

          Yeah. I keep waiting for the Libertarian Party to become more than a bad joke, and/or the Tea Party to become more than a gaggle of back-seat drivers.

          This may someday happen, but probably not within my lifetime.

          In the meantime I’ll keep voting (R) at the state and federal levels. They may indeed be heading down the same suicidal road as the (D)s, but at least they’re heading there not quite as fast.

    • Katherine McChesney

      If we vote for AFP…that will split the vote and Hillary will win.

      • IKUredux

        We lose no matter what. If we Whites vote for the American Freedom Party, maybe they will get the hint.

        • Katherine McChesney

          American Freedom Party?

          Not a chance.

  • gerrymandering increases homogeneity inside voting districts.

    Increased voter homogeneity increases the coherence of the expressed will of the electorate.

    A more coherent and unified expressed will of the voters means the voters are better able to elect politicians who will represent their expressed will.

    That means the people have more control over the government.

    That is good for you and me and bad for the plutocrats and mega-corporations.

    • Oh how I wish this was so.

      But then I look up and see John Boehner.

      There goes breakfast.

  • SFLBIB

    Ironically, this is how Newt Gingrich got elected. Democrats gerrymandered essentially a 100% black district in Georgia
    so blacks could have one of their own in Washington. This sucked Democrat votes away from Newt’s opponent, helping him get elected.

    • LackawannaErie

      The suburban area that made up Newt’s 90’s era district has been flooded with blacks, Hispanics and Asians and is now majority nonwhite or close.

  • Mack0

    I’ve seen the results of this. The blacks will vote for higher taxes to bleed the higher earning areas with the district of their hard earned dollars. Poor unproductive blacks(redundant) become leaches.

    • AFlaVet

      Become?

  • rentslave

    Breyer missed his calling.

  • rentslave

    The real solution for the next Republican President is to expand the Supreme Court to 23 members,the size of a grand jury.The new justices should all have four grandparents who lived past 100.

  • Cid Campeador

    Gerrymandering aside. In many cities they’re transporting Blacks from one voting precinct to another to vote again. No ID requirement for illegal aliens.
    This is a battle that we’ve long ago lost. The only solution is an impeachment or a military coup d’état and a total do over of our government.

    • AFlaVet

      I’ll take the military over this group of insurrectionists masked as a “Congress”. And one as a “potus”.

  • TheMaskedUnit

    It would seem to me that the DNC has the distinct advantage of getting to 51% black and stopping … anything more is just a wasted vote.

  • Alexandra1973

    What’s that saying–it’s not he who votes that counts, but he who counts the votes?

    If we have rampant election fraud, then this issue appears to be a red herring. What needs to be done first is have paper ballots, and have them counted in public, then we can worry about gerrymandering.

  • Roninf9

    Instead of gerrymandering black voting districts we should gerrymander a black country. What is implicitly stated in this ruling all other court rulings is that only blacks can represent blacks. So why not give blacks their own country and their own government and then they can live they way they see fit without evil, racist Whitey trying to disenfranchise them.

    • AFlaVet

      They have a pick of a few of them…in Africa. They can have their own continent.

  • AFlaVet

    It’s just so they can elect more morons like Jess Jr, Ray Nagin, Kwame Fitzpatrick, Maxine Waters, Cummings, Holders and raise their criminal “role” models like Trayvon and Brown to mythical status.

  • LackawannaErie

    The GOP are only so dominant in the House of Reps. do to massive gerrymandering that involves packing nonwhites into a few districts. Remember that the GOP actually got fewer total votes than the Democrats in the 2012 House elections, but they gained seats. That’s the power of gerrymandering.

    After the 2020 Census, there will be redrawing of the districts. Because of the massive increase in the number of nonwhites that will have happened over the decade, it will be impossible for the GOP to gerrymander as effectively as they did after the 2010 census. There will be too many nonwhites to pack into the existing Democratic safe districts. The result will be all things being equal, a shift towards more Democrats in the House. Repeat in 2030, 2040 etc. When the Democrats are finally in control of Congress during the redistricting, they can do their own gerrymandering and we could see a very big swing from R to D in the next election after that.

    White conservative fools think they can stay in power in a postwhite America. They are in for a rude awakening. The same issues that apply to Congress apply to GOP dominated state governments in the South. For example, Georgia will be minority white by the 2020 census. By the 2030 Census, the GOP will probably lose control of the state to a nonwhite dominated Democratic party.

  • ekwaykway

    Who’s stupid idea was it to give them voting rights in the first place?

    • bv

      Here here!

  • Guest

    As Steve Sailer has

  • Stogumber

    As Steve Sailer has shown once and again, race gerrymandering helped some black Democrats, but damaged much more non-black Democrats, which would have found a submissive clientele of black voters otherwise. So it’s quite reasonable that Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer voted against it – Kennedy is the foul apple in this basket.