Partisan gerrymandering presents harmful political, racial implications

Daniel Horowitz, Views Editor

Daniel Horowitz, Views Editor

Our current political climate creates a highly polarized environment that affects how policymakers formulate laws. Theoretically, the solution to alleviate the problem these legislators present is to elect someone new. Gerrymandering makes this easier said than done, and our courts must do what they can to prevent it from continuing.

Gerrymandering is a method of drawing state districts with the intention of improving the representation of one political party over another. Officials draw districts in convoluted shapes to envelop their supporters in one geographic location, thereby increasing their chances of having their party represented in Congress.

In many states, the majority party in the state legislature is responsible for drawing the district lines. The redistricting process occurs every 10 years following the census.

There are many problems with gerrymandering. In states where the majority party draws the lines, they form districts to help their party as opposed to representing a geographically consistent region. Therefore, representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives might not represent the interests of all of their constituents.

Gerrymandering is also often used to isolate communities that are inhabited primarily by people of color. Racial gerrymandering decreases the value of the votes of communities of color, and it discourages them from voting. The courts have previously ruled racial gerrymandering unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Some districts, however, have attempted to circumvent these court decisions.

Gerrymandering along political and racial lines is unethical. States like Louisiana have unevenly drawn districts that isolate minority communities, which happen to be left-leaning. It is unjust to devalue an entire district’s voting power and decrease the chances for more accurate representation.

Fair Districts Louisiana is an organization that has been working with the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at Louisiana State University to change the redistricting process in Louisiana. The organization’s goal is to take partisan politics out of redistricting. Though it has been difficult to come up with an alternative, Fair Districts Louisiana has been brainstorming with some of the brightest political minds to create a new system for drawing district lines after the 2020 Census.

In addition, it is possible that the courts will force every other state to adjust their redistricting process as well. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the state’s districts after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state court’s decision to change the district lines, making them fairly drawn. The Supreme Court is also expected to hear cases from Wisconsin and Maryland that will affect partisan gerrymandering in the future.

To protect both fundamental voting rights and racial and political minorities, we must encourage organizations like Fair Districts Louisiana in their efforts to help put an end to partisan and racial gerrymandering. Only then can we have a government that represents the people, not those who draw the districts.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected] 

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