SCOTUS defeat of Democrats' election-rigging strategy a victory for voters

SCOTUS defeat of Democrats' election-rigging strategy a victory for voters
© Hill Photo Illustration/Garrett Evans

The Supreme Court has never held that a legislative district map can be unconstitutional on “partisan gerrymandering” grounds, and this past week was no exception when it rejected the Democrats’ lawsuit in the Gill v. Whitford case from Wisconsin. That is a victory for the voters of Wisconsin and the nation, and for the Constitution.  

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of this case for lack of standing – Litigation 101 – also is a major blow to former Obama Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE’s litigation strategy to impact the 2018 state elections: to rig the system for Democrats in the redistricting battle that will ensue after the 2020 election cycle. Had the plaintiff Democrats won, it would have been the biggest gift to lawyers in a very long time. Our nation’s courts would have been open to lawsuits alleging that maps are unconstitutional because a candidate or party lost. And courts would have had to determine questions of political partisanship, which threatens to erode trust in the judiciary as one of the last nonpartisan institutions. 

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Legislative map-drawing has been a political process that is, by design, executed in state legislative chambers closest to the people they represent. The Republican State Leadership Committee argued to the court in its amicus brief that partisan gerrymandering of the kind alleged in Wisconsin simply does not violate any “well-developed and familiar” constitutional right. Democrats argue that a political party is entitled to a proportionate share of seats based on their statewide vote totals — a “right to win” — when America has a winner-take-all system, where winning individual elections, not running up votes in safe districts, is what matters. For the Supreme Court, or any lower court, to even consider the Democrats’ argument would suggest that all voters only vote one party, and that we adopt a style of government closest to a European parliament, rather than a constitutional republic.  

 

The Democrats’ argument of one-party voting in the Wisconsin case doesn’t even track with recent election history in the Badger State. In 2012, four Republicans won in state assembly districts carried by President Obama, some by double digits. Democrats flipped two state Senate seats that year: the 1st and 10th districts.

After a decade of record losses at the ballot box at the state level by Democrats, Republicans now control 67 of 99 state legislative chambers, having flipped nearly 1,000 state legislative seats on district lines largely drawn by Democrats. Within the past year, liberals and progressives, under the leadership of Eric Holder and Barack Obama, have feverishly turned to the nation’s courts to steal the power of map-drawing away from locally elected officials — and are raising tens of millions of dollars to do it.  

While Democrats would like to replicate the success of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s REDMAP program from 2010, the success of that program is based on having candidates and policies that voters want. Because they are bankrupt on good policy, the first listed priority of Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is to litigate. This goes hand-in-glove with what Mother Jones reported in 2014 when an official with the Ohio AFL-CIO stated: “We figured out a long time ago that it’s easier to elect seven judges than to elect 132 legislators.”

Notably absent in the efforts by the Holder-Obama alliance was public comment on the other case in front of the Supreme Court (Benisek v. Lamone), where Republicans acted against a map drawn by Democrats for which former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) said under oath, “Part of my intent was to create a map that, all things being legal and equal, would, nonetheless, be more likely to elect more Democrats rather than less.” Also absent was any comment on then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEx-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ Trump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage MORE’s drawing of his own Illinois state Senate district, to give him better access to high-income liberal donors to bolster his political career.

Holder’s definition of “fairness” is nothing more than a naked power grab by Democrats. If you don’t see through this very calculated effort by Team Obama-Holder, look no further than the three federal lawsuits filed by Holder’s NDRC last week, alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana; Holder’s own Justice Department approved the 2011 maps for all three states.  

Sadly, the Holder group’s priority, as stated on its Twitter account, is to litigate, not actually help candidates campaign for votes at the ballot box, like Republicans did on Democrat-drawn lines in 2010.  

If the Obama-Holder effort is successful in rolling back Republican legislative majorities, there is more to be lost than control of redistricting. States with GOP governors and legislative majorities have demonstrated how to grow jobs, spur innovation and provide children with a better education by reducing taxes and regulatory burdens on businesses, enacting litigation reform and right-to-work laws, restoring solvency to government pension plans, and putting in place school choice, charter schools and school accountability standards. Contrast Republican-led states with New York, Connecticut, California and Illinois, where progressive-left Democrats have driven up taxes, appeased the unions and trial lawyers, thrown money at bad schools and lost jobs as people and businesses relocated elsewhere. 

Matt Walter is president of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which seeks to elect Republicans to state-level offices. He previously worked as the RSLC’s communications and public affairs director, as its political director, and as executive director of the New York State Republican Party.