tv Redistricting the Courts CSPAN March 29, 2018 9:25am-10:22am EDT
addressing the gathering and we'll continue our live coverage after the break here on c-span2. c-span, where history infolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. provider. >> up next, a discussion on how states can have an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process. representative rod bloom of iowa and alan lowenthal of california join the common
cause for the event. this is just under an hour.
>> good morning, everyone, we are going to get started. we're still waiting for one other speaker and hopefully arrive in the next couple minutes, but we would like to start. my name is marilyn, i'm twith the operation for common cause. we thank you for joining us for an important discussion and thank you to our panel lists who have come from different parts of the country to be part of this important conversation. every ten years following the census, every legislative district in the united states must be redrawn from the u.s. house of representatives to state legislators and city councils, we draw our districts to assure that they have equal population so all americans have equal representations at every level at government. unfortunately, this important process is often
hijacked for political purposes in a way that subverts the very basic
foundation of our representative democracy. in most states a clear conflict of interest exists in which the legislators draw their own districts or congressional maps for personal and political advantage. they hire partisan political consultants to draw districts using sophisticated software and big data to preordain the outcome for decades. it should be equal representation and changing demographics has instead become one more front in an ongoing partisan war the american citizens are victims. fortunately, people are fighting back. citizen activists are putting into reform. in michigan, an effort that started on a single facebook post asking who wanted to help
inju gherrymanderin gerrymandering, putting an initiative on the 2018 ballot this november to create an independent citizen's commission. in ohio, decades of advocacies, paid off when legislators passed reform that voters approved in 2015 and now, legislators put a referendum on the may 2018 ballot to change how congressional districts are done. in addition to michigan ballot initiatives there are a number of other states that have ballot issues underway, including colorado, oklahoma, missouri and utah. in the courts, eight states still have pending redistricting litigation and advocates are making historic gains that could result in a nationwide limitation on prohibiting partisan gerrymandering. in the consolidated cases, of league of women voters versus-- of north carolina, a federal court struck down a
congressional map as a-- the north carolina legislator will appear later this year. and in case there will be a challenge to a blatant gerrymandering of the congressional map. and it surprised court watchers when they agreed to hear the case for a constitutional challenge to wisconsin assembly districts. it appears that the supreme court could be poised fon historic action by deciding a challenge to a republican gerrymander and a democratic gerrymander at the same time. an issue that has rarely been drawn for much attention in public interest, however, is now matching significant importance today, and all of a sudden we see ourselves thrown at the forefront in the center of a public fight to fundamentally protect our constitutional rights. so, i want to welcome and thank all of our speakers for coming today.
i would like to first start off by welcoming congressman lone loewen thal. he took a stand of redistricting in defiance of his own pore. and amicus brief and congressman loewenthal. >> hi, i'm alan loewenthal and hoping my colleagues will soon be here, and i want to thank him in abstentia, i guess it is and i know that rod will be here and i had the very good fortune of working with rod
when i decided to kind of work with common cause and others to take the leadership on, the amicus briefs. we've done now two amicus briefs and we worked on the last one, the amicus brief on the gill versus whitford case, on first amicus, i'll get to that was really on the arizona case. a little background. i began-- i was elected to the california state legislature in november of 1998, so i arrived in early 1999 to sacremento. i went through the process in the 2001 redistricting in california. now, i will tell you that i'm a democr democrat. california in 2001, like today, is overwhelmingly democratic
state. our leadership had the control over the drawing of-- so that was the background and i found it in 2001 when i went through that redistricting, a terribly offensive process. it wasn't only so bad in the public hearings, but late at night when the boundaries were being drawn, we would sit late at night and those that were actually drawing the maps would say, well, what do you need? can you give up something here? and i found that process totally offensive, a process that really reinforced the self-interest and the protection of incumbency rather than redistricting, which would be communities of interest and really creating accountability and that members would be accountable to their districts. so, in 2002, when we began to
work on-- or i began after the 2001 redistricting, at that time california had 34 democrats in the congressional delegation and 19 republicans. it was 34 out of our 53 members. i then began to work with kathy and common cause in california to see what we could do. i joined a group and helped to be one of the founders of a small group of renegades and my responsibility was to look at how do we take redistricting out of the hands of the elected officials and give it back to the people and so, we worked real hard in looking at models throughout the country in the early part of the 2000's, 2004,
2005, we brought in the arizona redistricting commission and asked them, what worked, what didn't work, if we were going to adopt something here in california how can we do it? and then we began to work on it using the arizona model as our model, but changing things to make it-- to update it and to make sure that we could deal with some of the issues around litigation and some of the real problems that arizona had, in terms of litigation, and we worked on that in our model. i want to get into that specifically. it was a very positive process. to get something on the ballot in california you either had to go through the initiative process or you get two-thirds of the legislature to do it. two-thirds of the state senate which i was-- by the time 2004 came i was then elected to the state senate and continued my work on redistricting, trying to create an independent commission, but by 2004, 2005, the democratic
leadership said, well, we really like, you know, this concept, but we're not doing it here in california. this, you know, we're the party in power, why should you as a democrat kind of lead the charge for us to give up that power? and my big thing was, you know, if we're-- if you trust the people and we have fair districts, districts that really reflect communities of interest and not the gerrymandering that goes on to protect incumbency and that, we will gain seats. we will not lose seats because, you know, that's-- it's a fundamental distrust of the public when you engage in gerrymandering because you're saying don't trust the public. you need the legislature and others to draw those districts. well, we got that out by a two-thirds vote out of the state senate, it was amazing. everybody in california was just shocked that we had 27 votes out of the 40 centers to pass an independent redistricting commission.
the bill never came up in the assembly. the bill got, you know, lost in the sacramento river someplace, it got buried never to be found again and that's when common cause and others began to take this model and work with governor schwarzenegger and say that the legislature won't put it out, we'll use this as kind of a model, modify it again and try to put it on the ballot as an independent. and that's what happened. we did it, we got it on the ballot. and it passed and you know, up inle until then from the 1960's to the 1970's, whenever in the legislature couldn't come to grips, couldn't deal with redistricting after each census so it ended up having the courts decide, i think twice in 1971 or 2, and 1991 or 2 got punted to the courts because the legislature
couldn't get their act together, and then in the other years when the democrats, i believe, were in control or the legislature was in control they did the redistricting and i was part of that last one in 2001, and as i say, we were told, you can't go to independent, you're going to lose a seat, the worst thing a party in power can do is to give up their own power, that's what this place is all about is power. and i said, no, that's not what this place is all about. this place is all about having people that really have to be representative of their districts and listen to the people in their district and try to make it as competitive, if we can, and compact and kind of follow the law. we almost followed the law every time. before we had the independent commission, but as i mention, when i first started, at the middle of the night everything got turned around. everybody stopped following the law and started protecting
themselves. so, we did that. the people voted on it in california, and actually in our state, democrats picked up. we went from 34 seats to 39 seats and the democrats were the ones that fought against the redistricting commission totally. they were the ones that opposed redistricting, was the democratic party because they saw it giving up power. i kept saying, if we represent the people, don't be frightened. you know, we'll do just fine. when i came here, my first bills-- so we did that in the first independent redistricting commission came out in 2011 for the 2012 election. what was interesting is that was the first time that the lines were not-- the boundary, we were not sued by some group. we did not have a suit. everyone said, well, we didn't get everything that we wanted, but it was a fair process. everybody had a chance to see what was going on and it was an
open process. so, we had no litigation at all, which i think-- and when i'm here, i tried to introduce something similar to this, to what we had done in california and i said let the people draw the lines, you know, and then i worked with-- looked around for what, who could i find who would be supportive of these issues and began to identify a number of people, and we worked on the amicus brief on the arizona case and then we did the amicus brief on gill, where my colleague congressman blum stepped up and helped to take the lead on that, also, on the amicus brief on go ill-- gill versus whitford. so now we're seeing that what was kind of a very nonsexy issue, something that was kind of in the background, all of a sudden we're seeing now, this has come to the forefront, whether it's the wisconsin
case, the maryland case, the north carolina case, all now in one way or another before the supreme court. it's an exciting, exciting time because what was at one time just talked about and said, you can't do this, you know, there's no way of really assessing what is, you know, really partisanship, and what is you know, how do you really measure excessive partisanship. that they are now struggling with all of these issues and before the court. so, i think this is totally appropriate that we're meeting here today because this is the critical issue that is now before the courts, i believe. justice ginsburg has said this is the most important cases that the supreme court will be hearing is this year. this is the key-- the key cases that we will be
deciding and so, everybody's really excited and, you know, we just heard yesterday, also, pennsylvania that the supreme court upheld the state courts and the state supreme court and the states gerrymandering. so, we're seeing again that we really have an opportunity in 2020 to really move the ball forward to really have hopefully for the first time fairer districts, districts that really membership that really reflect the members. the needs of the district and rather than the needs of the political party. so, i think that's very, very, very important and so, i'm very, very pleased to be here. i want to thank them and i think this is a very exciting time. and thank you all for coming and let's get on with it and let's hope, you know, work on these cases and understand,
educate ourselves. because i will tell you most members of congress do not understand or this is very low on their priority list. and our job is to educate them, is to say this is not low in the priority list and so that's why we're here and that's why i'm going to be supportive and thank you. >> thank you, congressman. and thank you congressman already goes joining us. they actually would like to turn to congressman blum, i could give you a few minutes and get ready for the next speaker if you're ready to jump in. >> i'm ready it jump in. i'm told i have two minutes. >> i'm sure we can give you a couple more than two minutes. thank you for joining us, congressman blum, serving his second term serving iowa's congressional district. like congressman lowenthal,
congressman blum signed amicus br brief opposing gerrymandering. and thank you congressman for joining us. >> thank you for having me here today. you know, gerrymandering is a serious subject. as i google gerrymandering jokes knowing i would be here today, there weren't any so this must be serious stuff, congressman. but i did find out this, back in 1812 the governor of massachusetts gerrymandered a district and one of the newspapers printed a picture of the gerrymandered district and they said this looks like a salamander, and so, this you know, made it all over the state of massachusetts and someone said, no, that's not a salamander, that's a gerrymander because the governor's last name was gerry. so, if you learn nothing else from what i say today, now you know where gerrymandering comes
from. i'm from iowa, from the 1st district of iowa and iowa does not gerrymander and let me tell you briefly about my district. in 2008, former president barack obama won my district by 18 points. in 2012 he won it by 14 points. and president trump in 2016 won it by 3 points. it's not a gerrymandered district. i think if we had more districts that could do that, that go both directions, it'd be a much different government today, would it not? my predecessor was bruce brailly, he was a democrat. his predecessor was jim nussle, a republican. i'm a republican. this is the type of district that is always in play, is always a target of both parties, quite frankly, depending on who currently has the seat, but i think this is
the way-- if every district, i think the congress won't agree with this, if every district in the can country were a competitive district, i think we'd have-- i know we would have better representative government 'cause you have to listen to your constituents, you have to listen to the voters. i always jokingly say in my office, there's never an easy vote for my office or for me because i have to sit there and look at all the different perspectives on every single vote, almost. especially the big ones. a lot of my colleagues, that's not the case because they know they're in safe seats. i know it's a tremendous amount of frustration in the country, not just this year, it's been there every two years, it seems to me. people are frustrated that in congress, especially the house, that it never changes power, never changes-- we know it does, but people are so frustrated, and congressional approval rating, 8%, 10%, 12%.
what are we 8%? >> something like that. >> 8%, you would think, wow, the entire house is going to change over, right? no, 95% of the seats are safe. and it's always the same 40 seats in districts like mine that are competitive that become targets and quite frankly, i'd be lying to you if i said it's fun being a target. but it makes you a better representative. i don't live in washington d.c., i go back to my district every weekend, when we're not here, i'm there. no, i love iowa, i love my home and love my family, don't get me wrong, but i need to be there and need to be out in the district working and listening to republicans, independents and democrats because it's a tough district. if every congressional member, i'm sure the congressmen would agree, had to do that what would the government be like? and people are so concerned, rightfully show not working together. in my district you talk about bipartisanship a lot.
if every district, i'll guarantee you if any district was competitive in the country we'd have bipartisanship. because as a representative, you are forced to work with the other parties. i often say the democrat party does not have a corner on great ideas and neither does my period have a corner on great ideas. so with that being said, let's sit down and work together. let me tell you, two minutes, i'm sure i'm way over. let me tell you how iowa does it, the computer does the districts and make sherry they're contiguous and none follow an interstate high or looks like a set of head phones. none of that goes on in iowa, in the computer system, two things, it does not look for incumbents live. doesn't care at all secondly, get this, does not look at party registration. it doesn't look at party registration, the computer system, it just does it geographically by making sure that we have four representative seats so what is
that 750,000 people, just the number of people in each district. that's all it looks at and then our legislature can vote it down or up, cannot amend it. which means politics can't enter into it. if they doesn't like it, guess what, the computer system goes back and makes up another map, vote it up or vote it down. so, it takes politics out of it, it's the way it's supposed to be and three of our four districts in the state of iowa are very competitive. a democrat who-- my district is more democrat than his. i'm a republican r republican, he's a democrat. and des moines is a competitive district as well. three of the four are competitive. and makes us better representatives. i've gotten involved in this because i always want to clean up washington, i want to reform this place. i told the president i was into draining the swamp before he
was into draining the swamp. i'm a businessman and i've always stood against gerrymandering and governor schwarzenegger called me up a few months back and asked me to sign onto the amicus brief and we read through it in our office and i was like, absolutely, i want to get involved in this, whether my party wants me to or not. it doesn't matter to me. the right thing to do. gerrymandering is bad government and makes for bad representation of the people, of all of the people, i think. and you see these safe districts, the party that's out of power, you know, their participation tends to be low. their voter turnout tends to be low because they know their vote doesn't really matter in the congressional district. that's a problem. that's not representative government. i'm sure the congressman would agree with that whether it's democrat or republican, goes both ways. so i signed onto the brief and stood against gerrymandering because there's not a single person out here if you take off
the partisan goggles that says this is good. no, who can say it's a good thing, it's not a good thing. i think that iowa is a model for another reason i got involved in this. i was a model how to do this correctly, take out partisan politics so all the people have a voice. i've way overtalked by two minutes and that's why i'm glad to be involved and i'll stand against gerrymandering for as long as it takes. i hope we can fix the impossible, get rid of it and let's get partisan politics out of this and make sure all the people are represented. thank you so much for having me and thank you for what you do. >> thank you for joining us, thank you. now i'd like to shift to, emmet, the founding partner of a firm in atlanta. the lead attorney who argued common causes in north carolina-- where a three-judge panel
struck down north carolina's congressional maps where litigation is ongoing, and emmitt successfully argued, a supreme court court case that ended some districts. can you give us the lay of the land of litigation? >> let me try to do so briefly. you have to understand that many states do not have initiative or refer da, but depend on state legislatures if reform is to come, and usually it requires a two-thirds or three-fourths vote of the legislature before they're willing to submit it to the people. and legislators with self-interest are not about to adopt any reform, just as prior to the one person one vote revolution, you had mal aportioned districts all over the country for over 200 years until the court stepped in. there are now three cases on the way to the supreme court, two have been argued by--
one has been argued, one will be argued and one is pending. there is the wisconsin case, which is a challenge to the aportionment of the wisconsin legislature on a state-wide basis. primarily under the equal protection clause. the 2-1 opinion ruled violation of the equal protection clause. that was argued in october and will be decided sometime between now and the return of the court in june. the second case is in maryland. it is an unusual test case brought by a pro se plaintiff who happens to be here today steve shapiro, challenging a democratic gerrymander of a single congressional district in maryland. the congressional district was one which was historically republican for the last 20 years.
the incumbent had won by 20-odd percent of the vote. instead of to meet the one man one vote standard, the legislature to have simply moved 10,000 vote,out of that district, which was overpopulated, to adjacent districts that were underpopulated. instead, they took a meat ax and cut it in half and moved in 330,000 new people into the district and moved 320,000 people out of the district or vice versa. converted it from a district which had a 12-point republican registration advantage to a 11-point democratic registration advantage and to no one's great surprise the republican incumbent was defeated in 2012 by 12 percentage points and a democrat was elected and reelected ever since. and the third case is in north carolina in which i'm currently involved.
common cause as the lead plaintiff in the case and challenged aportionment of the 13 congressional districts in north carolina. in 2011 when the republicans took over the north carolina general assembly following the 2010 elections, they gerrymandered the districts to convert north carolina, which is a 50/50 state, from one in which there was a 7-6 democratic majority to a 10-3 republican majority by gerrymandering the districts. two of the districts they gerrymandered on a-- on racial quota and those were held unconstitutional and affirmed by the supreme court. well, in 2016 the district court ordered the districts redrawn so the republican legislature then adopted, still under the control of the republicans with supermajorities in both houses, adopted written criteria.
the objective of which was to preserve the partisan advantage they had created in 2011. they specifically said in the written criteria that this would be a partisan gerrymander. they directed the map drawers to use political data, meaning how districts voted in 20 state-wide ewilkeses between 2008 and 2012 and draw the districts to maintain the existing 10-3 republican advantage and they did that. in january a three-judge district court and 204-page opinion which i will commend to your reading, found that this was a deliberate partisan gerrymandering that violated not one, but four separate provisions of the constitution. it violated the first amendment. the court found that effectively what this was was
viewpoint discrimination and under established supreme court law, neither states nor the federal government can demonstrate-- can discriminate between people based on their political beliefs, their political viewpoints about any particular issue. secondly, the court ruled that it violated the equal production clause. interestingly enough in all three cases no state and none of the amicus briefs of which there are more than 50, supporting the states, have argued that this partisan gerrymandering is legitimate. but it serves any democratic purpose for any legitimate state interest. traditionally under supreme court law, statues that discriminate have to serve a state interest. at least a legitimate state interest, and no one has yet
argued that there's anything legitimate about this. instead, they say, like the public bibleal courts will always about with us. the third case applies only to congressional districts and that's under the elections clause, which you'll remember is a clause in which the constitution dell delegates to the state the time and places of elections and members of house of representatives. the supreme court in two cases, in the '90s and early 2000's ruled that the elections clause means only that the state has the power to adopt procedural rules for the governance of congressional elections that this does not include the power to, quote, dictate outcomes or
violation of the constitutional limitations. that is established supreme court law. what does a partisan gerrymander do? dictate electoral outcomes. a partisan gerrymander will dictate whether a democrat or a republican will be elected in the general election in every congressional district that's been gerrymandered. what does it do, but favor or disfavor a class of candidates? in some districts, it favors democrats and others, it favors republicans. and what is the remedy for that? as with racial discrimination and other things, religious discrimination, stop doing it. use neutral principles. it is sometimes argued that, well, they compla with traditional principals. these districts are more compact, they don't look as
gerrymandered as the original gerrymand gerrymander, but with modern computers, it's easy for districts that don't divide counties and m municipality, to show how successful it is the cook political reporter reported the 2016 elections were the least competitive congressional elections since they have been keeping records sips the mid '80s, only 33 congressional districts out of 435 were classified as competitive, which meant by their definition that they were decided within a margin of plus or minus 10%. in my own state in georgia of 180 house seats, 80% did not have a general election opponent.
why? because in one word, the filing fee for the other party to run a candidate in that district of 14 congressional districts in 2016, only five of the 14 did not have a general election opponent. why? because it wasn't worth the filing fee. so, if elections are to be democratic and justice ginsburg would notice that from others of the supreme court have said that partisan gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles. ... congressional districts. if you have five times as many people or ten times as many
people as others. state legislative districts would have been worse than that. the court even though that invented a 200 your practice stepped in and said one person, one vote means equally effective votes, not merely the form right to cast a ballot. gerrymandering that same principles apply. we are optimistic that the court will this term or next in one or all of the three cases complete the reapportionment revolution by ending partisan gerrymandering as they did mal proportionately, 50 plus years ago. >> thank you. >> and finally we would like to turn to micah sims, , executive director of common cause pennsylvania who is come has his
handful in was gone pennsylvania with regard to building reform. so, micah. >> good morning. let me share from the beginning and number which i would hope you would etch within your memory banks. 329 million, 208,270. 208,270. i would submit this morning i believe our constitution has carved out and given us a hero for engagement in participation to the exercise of redistricting, allowing our country, state and local municipalities to organize our voting districts according to the current population and not historical context is a meaningful way to help current issues find real-time solutions. we are not caught in the chasm of the past which often times is disease with bias in negligence but redistricting is now, right now which helps us live a life
and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. redistricting also is our winter to an approved government and democracy in the future. it redistricting is our hero for an engaging democracy, then gerrymandering is the villain. gerrymandering is the antithesis of a healthy, productive representative democracy. for our form of government to operate as intended, each and every american voter must have the same free and equal opportunity to select his or her representative. remember that number from the beginning? since 2012 approximately 329 million votes have been cast range of the elections hoping to exercise that opportunity of selecting a congressional representative. but as we've seen with numerous state and federal lawsuits as mentioned, many of these votes and yes even some of the votes cast by those of us in this room
fell into the abyss as our districts were damaged by bipartisan and even extreme partisan gerrymandering. the damage was harmful but that harm and damage put citizens, organizations and coalitions to fight for our country because we realize that redistricting needed to be protected and valued just like the votes that were cast. my home the commonwealth of pennsylvania found 18 courageous individuals who would not allow their votes to be wasted any longer on unfair maps. the case which featured latest sum of four members of common cause pennsylvania sought to not only have their voices heard but established a congressional map where all voters of pennsylvania would feel that their voice in their vote mattered. this case weaved its way through the court rooms as the words replaced in legal briefs and statements in expert testimony. we realize there were those who were not in those courtrooms
wanted to be heard as well. in pennsylvania, , organizations can together under initiative such as the keystone campaign when we gathered 30 statewide organizations, coalition work like their districts coalition, and concerned citizen efforts with groups like power which is an interfaith organization based in southeastern pennsylvania worked diligently to ensure that residents across pennsylvania became aware of the disease, the villain, if you will, known as gerrymandering. people from philadelphia to erie and dave were in between learn how democracy and our votes were being attacked, diminished and even wasted. dr. martin luther king, jr. once said our lives begin to end when we become silent about the things that matter. in pennsylvania as well as other states around this country when it comes to redistricting, gerrymandering, attacking our ability to select our representatives, silence is no longer the order of the day.
it's important and it matters. citizens care and residents want to know that when they cast a vote that counts. there is no longer silent on this issue. there are initiatives maryland state in places like maryland weather gathered over 400,000 signatures. in indiana they this created a legislative study committee to work on how to create fair maps. in georgia a common cause of georgia has organized a tour across the state called gerrymandering 101. other states are doing impactful work across this country. there is no longer silent on this issue because that it is time to address who should do the map drawing in the best interest of fairness, competitiveness and equality. let's stop along the elected officials to choose voters and have the voters choose the elected officials. time to follow six of the state such as california where nonpolitical, non-politician
citizens draw and approve the final maps. there is no longer silent on this issue. groups like common cause, the league of women voters, naacp and local organizations are actively enabling people to see how this issue of redistricting connects with kitchen table issues such as jobs, education, economic development and housing. redistricting is being promoted as a hero that keeps hope in the heart of every current and future voter in our country. yes, we are witnessing a pivotal moment and democracy with the litigation of these crucial redistricting cases. however, where not only optimistic for decision that allows our team of redistricting to capture and in the villain this activity of gerrymandering but we are also optimistic of expanding out engaging citizenry who realizes that activism, initiative and working together can truly help improve our democracy. thank you for this opportunity
to really speak up for all of those in this country who really do want to end gerrymandering and have fair maps. >> thank you, micah and thank you to all of our speakers. i'm going to take a couple questions. we have somebody in the room so if you could please raise your hand, if we could take questions from reporters first. please identify your invocation. while you are gathering your thoughts i have a couple of questions. the first is directed to you, congressman lowenthal. you touched a little bit on this earlier. what role does congress or can congress play in the redistricting process picky believe i'm also going to see reform at the state level or eventually get to a point where we can have an national standard developed? >> all of the above.
i think we will for the foreseeable future, we will see the changes occurring at the state level and that's really what i think the foreseeable future is. i think that it was a fascinating process when we first started to do the arizona case, just to get congress involved in the amicus brief. and what we decided are what common cause and others decided is to have an equal number of democrats and republicans sign on to the amicus brief. i will be honest, it was difficult getting an equal number, and we ended up i think having ten democrats in ten republicans on the amicus brief but it took a lot of work to get those 20, who are really the champions in the congress for educating ourselves in a
bipartisan way. and then i introduced a bill and others have also, and there have been a number of bills. my bill was a bill to say, it was called let the people draw the lines, and it was really based upon a model of taking the drawing of districts out of the hands, as you point out, of elected officials in getting it to the people to decide. having a fair process. the importance about individual redistricting is the fairness in the process, having an equal number not being based upon a partisan model, so that we did in california was of equal number of republicans, equal number of democrats and independents with the chair of the commission being an independent or decline to state not being a democrat or republican. and any maps had to vote from all three buckets. you couldn't have a map that
would just be one or the other. turns out we didn't even need that, that the commission came together, bonded, figured out what they had to do it i do believe the maps came out with voting, , every member of the commission voted for the maps that ended up coming out. so to answer your question, i am not optimistic that congress will try this train. i think it would be driven by the states and the courts. i think at some point in the future as it builds momentum from the states, then the congress will be, but it's hard enough even when we have consensus to see congress act. congress has to be pushed. the nice thing about what has taken place on independent redistricting is that, or ending gerrymandering, is that the pressure is coming from the bottom up. that will lead to great change. up until now the decisions about
how legislatures would work on redistricting was always a top-down model. both parties would send their people to the states. they would draw the maps. they would determine what those maps would look like. so when you have people who already have power to say now you have to give it up, it's a very difficult step. so i believe it will be the courts now that will determine, and then there would be from the states themselves. and then i think congress will act but i'm not optimistic that it will come right now from the congress. >> thank you. >> we have to keep the focus on. >> i do think there's about 16 states that have some type of activity around redistricting reform, whether its publication events that are think micah was saying happening in georgia, to develop and reform and, of course, have about, a number of
states about initiatives. on the court side, in it, aside from the maryland case in the wisconsin case, are there any other redistricting cases that you think that make their way to the supreme court? >> between those two cases, the north carolina cases, the court is going to have before it the opportunity, and those three cases essentially exhaust the legal theories anybody has come up with. 30 that are smarter people than we are that may come up with some of the theory if this cases fail, but particularly in a north carolina case. that is the most thorough opinion written in the field. it covers four constitutional grounds which exhaust the field as far as anybody knows.
if that case is reversed in the supreme court will essentially be saying we can't do anything about this, and that it's fair game which means that if you think the legislators have been bad heretofore, it will be open season. there will be no constitutional restraints and it would be more extreme than you have ever seen. on the other hand, the court affirms north carolina case, it will say, rules favorably especially in the maryland case which is a first and then the case, so maryland and north carolina have that issue in common and our congressional districts. if it rules at the first amendment treats this as a form of viewpoint discrimination or retaliation against voters based on their political beliefs, outlines are very clear, very bright, which is don't do it. don't pay attention to voting
history. don't pay attention to voting registration. just as the court has told legislators, except in the limited area compliance of section two of the voting rights act you can't consider race. you can't racially discriminate. why should you be able to discriminate against democrats, republicans, green party or the independence? the court has really got it squarely teed up and there are no outs. there is no way to punt on first down and take it to somebody else. the courts will have to decided, and i'm optimistic that out of these three cases, whatever theories are put forward, the court is going to come up with a solution as they did in the reapportionment cases. i had the privilege of litigating in those cases. talk about sending a child to do a man's work, but before 1962,
the courts took the view that this was all a political question that the courts could not become involved with. over a time of two years, that reversed and the court said this practice which had existed since the founding of the constitution of an equal districts had to end, and they do a very clear line in what is called the one person, one vote rule. so your congressional districts, for example, have to be equal in population. not sort of equal. it's not like horseshoes, coming close will work. you come within mathematical equality because the federal policies trump any state policies. so this is a real opportunity that none of us foresaw for the
court to step in and really reform american democracy. we hope they will not with on three pitches. they've got three pitches before them. >> i i think i want to add on to that, this is a list work moment because in the past the courts have looked at racial gerrymandering. and now we are seeing the courts really taking a look at what we just heard, the actual drawing of partisan to advantage one party over the other party. those issues are in all three of these cases, and the court which in the past has been reluctant to do with these because they have felt this is a very difficult thing to deal with, a partisan gerrymandering. it's easier to see the racial gerrymandering, and now the course as they did with one man one vote, one person, one vote, is now fully addressing the
partisanship in this and this is unheard of and that's why, that's why what we're doing today is so important for us to learn about these cases are historic now. >> i.t. is isn't there a question from e audience? okay, i have just one last question before we wrap up. it's in the states, things happening in the state. so micah from your perspective what he thinks it is the need to do to get engaged to address the issue of gerrymandering in their states? >> so i think they continue outo be able to reach out to good government reform groups like common cause, league of women voters and find out to get engaged. i think obviously a number of people from presidential election bounced off of their sofas and decide to find ways to get engaged. i know in pennsylvania
gerrymandering became almost that sexy thing that literally rose from the grassroots for people to rally around. and because again that it does connect to so many different things, it remains so engaging and nicer people to say listen, i want my votes to be protected. i want to feel when i go to vote it's not wasted. i want to feel that it's been protected and want to feel that my voice and my vote count and is being represented in washington, d.c. i think people have to go find good government organizations. i also think in this age of activism that people are starting to begin to do it right in the own living rooms and right into her own kitchens, organizing within your communities, organizing at your churches, mosques and synagogues, organizing at the y, fighting people are interested in helping to embrace democracy and begin to talk about the
issues, educate one another and figure out where the real engagement is. >> i want to thank everyone, take our panelists for joining this morning. if you want to learn more about redistricting, gerrymandering please visit our website, common cause.org. you can read about what's happening in the states and also stay up-to-date on what's going on with litigation. so thank you all again, and have a great day. [applause] >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> the consumer federation of america today's holding the second it of its food safety conference in washington. attendees are attending other breakout sessions. the speaking portion of this event will resume in about 25 minutes at 10:45 p.m. eastern. will hear from references of farmers and state officials and have all live here on c-span2. until then when the conference gets going again we'll hear from fda commissioner scott gottlieb who spoke to the group this morning.
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