FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 22, 2018
ANOTHER VICTORY AGAINST PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING
A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
By a vote of 4-to-3 Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court just declared the political districts drawn by Republicans in 2011 violated the state constitution and ordered them redrawn by February 9, 2018 in time for the November federal elections.
If the lines are redrawn fairly it could significantly benefit the Democrat’s quest to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives as the 2016 votes were essentially the same state-wide for Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania, but Republicans wound up with 13 of the 18 congressional seats.
This is just another of several partisan Republican gerrymandered redistricting maps that have been declared unconstitutional recently, including Wisconsin and North Carolina. Oral arguments in the Wisconsin case were heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2017. The SCOTUS has declared racial gerrymandering unconstitutional but has never ruled authoritatively on political gerrymandering because it’s lacked an objective standard for determining the degree of political gerrymandering that its willing to accept.
Republicans redrew nearly half of all congressional districts in 2011, nearly four times as many as Democrats and the resulting Republican politically gerrymandered districts disproportionately impacted Democratic representation around the country.
In the recent Virginia state legislative races, for example, Democrats received 220,000 more votes than Republicans statewide, but Democrats won one senate district by just one vote. Republicans found one vote in dispute and a Republican panel of judges threw it out resulting in a tie. The winner was drawn out of a hat resulting in Republicans maintaining control of the Virginia state senate.
In 2012, Democrats won 1.4 million more cumulative votes than Republicans but Republicans maintained control of the U.S. House of Representatives by more than 25 congressional seats because of partisan political gerrymandering across the nation. Drawing fair congressional district lines could significantly increase the possibility of Democrats retaking control of the House in Congress.
It seems that the only way Republicans can win is by cheating, either by engaging in the partisan gerrymandering of district lines to favor themselves or by practicing various schemes of voter suppression. Hopefully the Supreme Court will settle the gerrymandering issue with a fair ruling and the establishment of objective criteria to assure fairness in redistricting in 2021 and beyond.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justicearound the world.
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