Republicans vs. Democracy: Why the war on minority voting rights is about to get even worse.

Author:Mencimer, Stephanie
Position:On political books - One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy - Book review

How Voter Suppression Is

Destroying Our Democracy

One Person, No vote:

How Votes Suppression Is

Destroying Our Democracy

By Carol Anderson

Bloomsbury Publishing, 288 pp.

In June, as the Supreme Court term was nearing completion, voting rights activists and election lawyers were holding their breath, waiting for a decision in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin case challenging the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. The plaintiffs argued that, in the 2011 redistricting, Republicans had effectively locked Democrats out of the political process in the state by making it almost impossible for them to translate popular vote victories into majority representation. In 2012, they pointed out, Democrats won more than 50 percent of the popular vote, but only managed to secure 39 percent of the seats in the state assembly. Two years later, the Republicans won 52 percent of the vote and nearly 63 percent of the state legislative seats. And in 2016, with the same share of the popular vote, they captured sixty-four of ninety-nine state assembly seats. Republicans did this, as they have in states across the country, by using sophisticated software to alternately "pack" and "crack" Democratic voters--sticking as many into already Democratic-leaning districts as possible, to waste their votes, while spreading the rest into safe Republican districts, to prevent them from forming a majority--with surgical precision.

Aggrieved Wisconsin Democrats sued to overturn the state election maps, arguing that the partisan gerrymandering violated both their Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection, by diluting the power of their votes compared with Republicans, and their First Amendment rights, by targeting them on the basis of their political affiliation. In November 2016, a federal court agreed. The state appealed, and the Supreme Court later agreed to hear the case, leaving Democrats hopeful that the Court might finally put a stop to the nationwide Republican effort to use gerrymandering to lock itself in power. Former Attorney General Eric Holder cheered the Court's decision to take up the case. The justices, he said, "will have a chance to rein in an aggressive new breed of data-driven gerrymandering that divides communities and diminishes the voice of many Americans." Most of that hope rested on a single justice: Anthony Kennedy, who in a 2004 opinion had suggested that he was open to the idea that partisan gerrymandering was unconstitutional. He all...

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