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Feb 01 2018

Down The Line For Gerrymandering

Folks, it’s a fact and has been since the mid 70s that Republicans have no ideas or agenda other than pure racism, bigotry, and misogyny (well, that and stealing for their Plutocratic Donors). To call them the Party of the Klan and the Nazis is rather understating it because they also hate the 51% majority of the United States- women.

As an intellectually bankrupt and corrupt Party the only way they can be politically successful is by cheating, which has accelerated as their ideology has become more transparent and vastly unpopular and their demographic base is dying.

Like past parrot, no kidding. You have to nail them to the perch.

This of course explains their desperation to codify their radical agenda and their attempt to disenfranchise those they perceive as threats (fake voter fraud).

Jim Crow discrimination is losing effectiveness as a tactic (witness the collapse of the Kobach Commission) so recently the focus has been on good old fashioned Gerrymandering. The concept is to jam as many Democrats as you can into as few Districts as you’re able to manage and leave the rest of them open for Republicans. Democrats have had overwhelming popular vote advantages over the last decade or two but there has been a steady decline in their representation because of this (among other things like their Neo Liberal agenda, but that’s not what I’m talking about here).

Some Courts have finally roused themselves to this reality, like North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and decided that this is not very fair (Duh!). Despite adverse rulings, because they are a Party in massive decline and denial, some of them have decided to adopt the attitude of Andrew Jackson-

“John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

Sen. Scarnati refuses Pa. Supreme Court order to turn over map data in gerrymander case
by Jonathan Lai, Philadephia Inquirer
January 31, 2018

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) said Wednesday he would not turn over any data requested by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the wake of the gerrymandering ruling that Republicans are fighting in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, the state high court ruled that Pennsylvania’s congressional map was the product of unconstitutional gerrymandering and ordered the General Assembly to submit files “that contain the current boundaries of all Pennsylvania municipalities and precincts” by noon Wednesday.

In a letter to the court, Scarnati’s lawyers said he would not do so, repeating an argument they have made to the U.S. Supreme Court: The state court is overstepping its authority.

“In light of the unconstitutionality of the Court’s Orders and the Court’s plain intent to usurp the General Assembly’s constitutionally delegated role of drafting Pennsylvania’s congressional districting plan, Sen. Scarnati will not be turning over any data identified in the Court’s Orders,” the lawyers wrote.

In the first place, the United States Supreme Court has no business at all in this case. The Constitution leaves selection of Representatives to the States. Republicans argue Legislatures! Ok, fine, your Legislature has just been found to be in violation of your State Constitution by the highest Court in the State.

Did Marbury v. Madison suddenly disappear? Perhaps we are not as fond of the 10th Amendment and State’s Rights as we’ve been pretending.

Republicans also complain the Court has not provided the guidance they need to draw a new map. Well, you are withholding the information they need to do that.

In my Court, since you’ve missed your Wednesday (Yesterday) deadline, Marshalls would already have siezed the required documents and be waiting to toss your sorry ass in Jail until I decide you’re no longer in Contempt of Court.

Get comfortable, it could take a while.

Atrios (who had this last night) is not the only one to have noticed.

Pennsylvania GOP leader tells state supreme court he will ignore its anti-gerrymandering order
by Ian Millhiser, Think Progress
Jan 31, 2018

In an audacious move by a political leader who could potentially be held in contempt of court, Pennsylvania Senate President pro tempore Joseph Scarnati (R) informed the state supreme court on Wednesday that he will openly defy one of the court’s recent orders (PDF) in a gerrymandering case.

On January 22, the state supreme court struck down the state’s gerrymandered congressional maps — maps which enabled the GOP to win 13 of the state’s 18 congressional districts even in years when Democrats won the statewide popular vote. That order explained that the state’s maps must be “composed of compact and contiguous territory” and must not “divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population.” It also gave the legislature until February 9 to draw new maps, and the governor until February 15 to approve the maps and submit them to the court for review.

If either deadline is not met, “this Court shall proceed expeditiously to adopt a plan based on the evidentiary record developed in the Commonwealth Court.”

Four days after its initial order, on January 26, the court issued a subsequent order (PDF) requiring the legislature to turn over certain data — including geolocation files “that contain the current boundaries of all Pennsylvania municipalities and precincts” and various reports analyzing how well the legislature’s proposed new maps comply with the court’s January 22 order.

In a letter from his legal counsel, Scarnati explicitly refuses to comply with the second order (PDF). Though the letter claims that “the General Assembly is currently advancing bills aimed at creating an alternative map,” the letter also states that “Senator Scarnati will not be turning over any data identified in the Court’s Orders.”

Scarnati’s stated reason for this defiance is his belief that the court’s January 22 order “violates the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause.” Last week, Scarnati sought a stay of the January 22 order from the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that only the state legislature and not the state courts are constitutionally allowed to weigh in on questions of gerrymandering. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this stay request, which means that both the January 22 order and the January 26 order remain binding upon Scarnati.

As ThinkProgress previously explained, Scarnati’s request for a stay also conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistrict Commission (PDF). It is also difficult to square with the Court’s landmark 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, which held that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”