SCOTUS Rejects 2 Congressional Districts In North Carolina

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by oneMadRssn, May 22, 2017.

  1. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #1
    Actual Opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1262_db8e.pdf

    "We uphold the District Court's conclusions that racial considerations predominated in designing both District 1 and District 12," Kagan wrote for the high court. "For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. For District 1, we further uphold the District Court's decision that [measure] 2 of the VRA [Voting Rights Act] gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters because of their race."

    Majority: Kagan, Thomas, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer.
    Concurrence: Thomas
    Dissent: Alito, Roberts, Kennedy

    [​IMG]

    Best layman's article on point that I have found so far: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...s-2-congressional-districts-in-north-carolina

    And just to throw a bit more fuel on to this fire, needless to say, it was Republicans that improperly used race in this case.
     
  2. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #2
    God the 12th one, how could they even imagine that would pass muster. That one was unanimous...
     
  3. oneMadRssn thread starter macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #3
    This is one of those things where I truly believe computers can do a better job. I think mathematicians and software engineers can create an algorithm to divide a state into districts to minimize the distance from the center, minimize number of non-natural angles (e.g., an angle based on a street is non-natural, an angle based on a river is natural), and optimize representation.
     
  4. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #4
    Damn straight! And this is why those algorithms will never be let out of the conference room where they're demo'd. And, why we have anti-science reps in the state legislatures too, not just the federal districts that those state dudes draw up.
     
  5. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #5
    That's a typical optimization algorithm. It's not necessarily solvable in an analytic sense, but you can obtain a near approximation. If you tagged on the angle thing, you might make it unsolvable or prone to weird results.
     
  6. oneMadRssn thread starter macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #6
    I agree, but I think in this case the visual for the layman voter is so clear it will be too compelling.

    For example, knowing nothing about math, computers, algorithms, science, or politics, which of the following looks fairer? Which looks more proper?

    upload_2017-5-22_16-39-37.png
     
  7. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #7
    lol if we were talking watershed districts i could maybe stay confused. show me the topo :D
     
  8. oneMadRssn thread starter macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #8
    Agreed, but the issue is that making districts compact alone does not necessarily make them fair. You can have very unfair compact districts. I think people tend to naturally live along and divide by natural lines, such as rivers and mountains. If the algorithm were adjusted to take those into account, it could be both compact and fair.

    Also, I have faith in our computer scientists that they can figure out a way to make it work without it being unsolvable of having weird results.
     
  9. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    #9
    We have some paved roads around here that still take weird angles or a series of 90 degree turns that are all about exactly past living arrangements: "Mr. Smith's goat sheds" or some swimming hole in a creek that dried up and then reverted to through-flow a hundred years ago, or some group of huge boulders even, that the earlier dirt road was just built around. I laugh when I slow down at those curves, thinking how we all still have to pay respects to the ghosts of Mr. Smith and his goats' outbuldings.

    It's kind of strange and probably very political that the school districts here don't always follow the township, county or voting precinct lines either. Another layer of respect for some other set of ghosts, I guess. Bring on the algorithms; there are a bunch of things could use smoothing out.

    Politically though, all this stuff ends up being dynamite, even taking out a bad curve in a road.
     
  10. smallcoffee macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Oh, we could but there is approximately 0% chance of it ever being implemented. It's probably been done before, even.
     
  11. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #11
    That 12th district looks like a crack in the floor. :rolleyes:

    And I think I've seen the 1st district on the top of Mikhail Gorbachev's head.
     
  12. cfedu macrumors 65816

    cfedu

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    #12

    I think the computer is the problem in this case, they make a program on how to disenfranchise as many people as possible. Bipartisan oversight is needed, these Mickey mouse districts are an insult to democracy.
     
  13. tgara macrumors 6502a

    tgara

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    #13
    No, all the justices agreed on the disposition by the lower court on the 1st district. Alito, Kennedy, and Roberts disagreed with the majority concerning the 12th district, but it was on precedential and evidentiary grounds. They also note that this case represents the 5th time the 12th district went before SCOTUS since 1993.

    Notably, NPR pointed out that these districts no longer exist since they were redrawn after a federal court ruled in early 2016. Nevertheless, even after the redrawing, Republicans won 10 out of 13 districts in the state house.
     
  14. HEK Suspended

    HEK

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    #14
    What they go do, poll individual homes. Oh yeah rich folks have homes along the river. Shameless
     
  15. TonyC28 macrumors 65816

    TonyC28

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    #15
    Gerrymandering is crazy. It's amazing that it still goes on. Both parties pull this crap.
    --- Post Merged, May 23, 2017 ---
    Look at Illinois Congressional districts around Chicago. The rest of the state is pretty normal but when you get to Chicago it looks like a drunk with a crayon was in charge.
     
  16. Carnegie macrumors 6502

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    #16
    As tgara pointed out, the decision wasn't unanimous with regard to the 12th District. It was unanimous with regard to the 1st District.

    That said, trying to answer your (perhaps rhetorical) question... They could imagine that a district drawn like that would pass muster because it's fairly easy to have drawn districts - even ones with very irregular shapes - pass muster.

    States are allowed to gerrymander. They're allowed to draw districts with crazy shapes. They're even allowed to draw districts with crazy shapes for the express purpose of gaining political advantage - e.g., to pack a lot of democrats or a lot of republicans into a few districts so that other districts can end up with more republicans or more democrats.

    They are not, of course, except under particular circumstances (that I won't get lost in for now), allowed to draw districts in order to include or exclude people based on race. But there's considerable correlation between partisan identification and race. So partisan gerrymandering and racial gerrymandering might often lead to similar results. In a case like this one, someone challenging how given districts were drawn has to be able to demonstrate that they were drawn for racial reasons rather than for partisan reasons. Often that's not going to be easy to do. It might require that those responsible for the districting decisions effectively left an obvious trail of bread crumbs leading to the real reasons for their decisions. In other words, it might require that they were dumb in not concealing their real motivations - e.g., that they made statements indicating that they were drawing districts for racial purposes rather than for partisan purposes.

    So it could have been fairly easy for those responsible for drawing the 12th District in that way to get away with doing so, even if we accept that they did so based on race. They may have gotten away with it if it weren't for, e.g., certain statements which the district court relied upon in determining that this was racial gerrymandering rather than partisan gerrymandering. Even in light of those statements and other evidence, a different set of judges might have found that the 12th District didn't violate the Equal Protection Clause - in essence, that the primary motivation in drawing it was political advantage. The majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court didn't even conclude that it was the case that the district was drawn as it was primarily for racial reasons. That majority only concluded that the district court's determination to that effect wasn't clearly wrong - basically, that it was a plausible conclusion based on the evidence even though the contrary conclusion might also have been plausible.
     

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