OA54: Gerrymandering

In today’s episode, we look at the history and potential future of gerrymandered congressional districts.

We begin, however, with a listener question that’s come to us from multiple sources, including Patrons Greg Boettcher and Adrian Borschow, who want to know if there’s any difference between a “jail” and a “prison.”  We deliver the goods!

In our main segment, we delve into three recent cases regarding the time-honored practice of gerrymandering a state into congressional districts so as to maximize the number of safe seats for any one political party.  How significant is this problem, and can the courts fix it?  Listen and find out!

Next, our much-beloved segment “Closed Arguments” returns with a look at a British tabloid journalist, Katie Hopkins, who was recently forced to pay more than 300,000 pounds (that’s still real money, right?) after mistakenly taunting another journalist on Twitter.

Finally, we end with a brand new Thomas Takes the Bar Exam question #16 that asks whether an administrative assistant has sufficient authority to bind her boss when making contracts. Remember that TTTBE issues a new question every Friday, followed by the answer on next Tuesday’s show.  Don’t forget to play along by following our Twitter feed (@Openargs) and/or our Facebook Page and quoting the Tweet or Facebook Post that announces this episode along with your guess and reason(s)!

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Show Notes & Links

  1. The first Supreme Court case to recognize a constitutional right to a non-gerrymandered district was Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109 (1986).
  2. Scalia (of course) attempted to overrule Davis v. Bandemer in his 2004 plurality opinion in Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 US 267 (2004), but could only garner four votes.
  3. Since then, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the basic principle of Davis v. Bandemer in LULAC v. Perry, 548 US 399 (2006), in which only two sitting Supreme Court justices have endorsed the Scalia position.
  4. This is a fairly awesome video from former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger making gerrymandering the centerpiece of what is likely to be a run for the Senate in 2018.
  5. This is the Whitford et al. v. Gill (Wisc.) decision on gerrymandering that contains a detailed section as to how to detect and remedy “packing” and “cracking.”
  6. This is the full text link to the Perez v. Abbott (W.D. Texas) decision on Texas’s gerrymandered congressional districts.
  7. Andrew recommends Princeton professor Sam Wang’s work on gerrymandering.  The full text of his Stanford Law Review article is here.

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