Answer in Gerrymandering Case is Clear
Oct 19, 2017
On Oct. 3, the Supreme Court heard Gill v. Whitford in which plaintiffs argued that partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin is unconstitutional. This case marks a crucial opportunity for Supreme Court to end extreme gerrymandering in America. Gerrymandering, which Merriam-Webster defines as the division of a state “into political units to give special advantages to one group,” results in elected officials who do not proportionally represent a state’s population and its citizens’ interests. Both Republicans and Democrats manipulate district lines in their favor, so the issue is not blatantly only one party. In this case, SCOTUS will determine the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering rather than its adherence to democracy. Nonetheless, the practice is undoubtedly undemocratic.
Gerrymandering most often occurs through cracking and packing. When politicians crack and pack, they draw districts so that the favored party has a slight majority over the other, leading to many wasted votes in both parties. The key in this strategy is to spread voters of the favored party just thin enough to win slight majorities in many districts, while packing the other party’s voters in very few districts, thereby forsaking those areas. A politician’s need to gerrymander shows his or her uncertainty in securely winning a free, fair election — essential to most definitions of democracy. Politicians who believe they have their constituents’ best interests in mind may justify illegitimate methods of getting into office in order to reach the end goal of enacting policies with their supposed good intent. The issue is that democracy is ultimately meant to represent the will of the people, not solely the will of those in power.
Gerrymandering isolates representation to only citizens who side with the government. This disenfranchisement is unacceptable in a country founded by groups escaping persecution and lack of political representation. Although SCOTUS rulings on political issues are hotly contested, in this instance, the Court should consider the case’s political weight and strike down gerrymandering.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Amy Rhee at [email protected]