Alan Ehrenhalt is a former executive editor of GOVERNING.E-mail: email@example.com
For the past 20 years they've been saying that raw partisan gerrymandering is potentially unconstitutional -- all a litigant has to do is bring them a really egregious example, and they'll set some new guidelines to fix the problem. So the cases keep reaching the court, and every time, the court says, "No, that's not a good enough example. Bring us a more drastic one, and we'll do something."
The latest example was yesterday, when the court refused to pass judgment on the Texas remap that Republicans did in 2003 for the express purpose of dealing Democrats out of power. That wasn't good enough for them either.
Personally, I think there's a decent case to be made that courts shouldn't touch partisan redistricting issues at all.
The process is always going to have partisan implications, and it will never be easy for any court to set limits. There's a reason why Felix Frankfurter called redistricting cases a "political thicket," and voted to stay out of them.
But that isn't what this court is doing. They're running a tease on the American political process by insisting on their willingness to consider an important issue, and then ducking every time they have a chance to consider it.
It reminds me a little bit of the Wizard of Oz -- "Sure, I'll help you. Just bring me the head of the wicked witch." Of course, Dorothy and her friends eventually showed up with the head, and saw their desires fulfilled. Something tells me that the millions of citizens wishing for some fairness in the redistricting process will never be so fortunate.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.