We cherish the right to choose our representatives to Congress. But before we choose our representatives, they choose us as voters. Confused? Well, you should be because the redistricting process doesn’t make any sense.
The Constitution stipulates that every ten years a census must be taken to count all Americans. State legislatures then draw a map setting the boundaries for congressional districts. So far, so good.
What doesn’t make sense is the way state legislatures draw the districts. And the court decisions on redistricting make even less sense. In recent years, a number of court cases have challenged congressional districts that are drawn to create a majority of black or Hispanic voters. Courts have ruled that setting districts along racial lines violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. North Carolina recently argued before the Supreme Court that their intent in drawing the latest map was “to help guarantee the reelection of Rep. Melvin Watt . . .”
Guarantee reelection? Huh? While the courts have ruled that state legislatures cannot gerrymander districts along racial lines, they have approved districts drawn to reelect all the incumbents. Now any two high school students with a calculator and a map could redistrict a state in a weekend. But it takes state legislatures months of political deal-making to set districts for the benefit of their political buddies in Congress.
Incumbents are virtually “guaranteed” reelection, because they get to choose the voters before the voters get to choose them. Does anybody think this is what our Founding Fathers had in mind?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.