This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pennsylvania Court Rules Against Gerrymandered Districts

In the ongoing battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives via gerrymandered congressional district boundaries, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the state must immediately redraw its boundaries. As Reuters reports:
In a 5-2 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the electoral map violated the state’s Constitution by manipulating the district boundaries to marginalize Democratic voters, a practice called partisan gerrymandering.
Democrats, who hold only five of the state’s 18 congressional districts despite Pennsylvania’s status as an electoral swing state, hope to regain control of the House in the November mid-term elections by flipping 24 seats now held by Republicans nationwide.
As a reminder of the importance of the political party approach to gerrymandering, points out that Karl Rove, who engineered the campaign that brought George Bush to the White House in 2000, has put this strategy down on paper:
Consider that, in 2010, when Karl Rove wrote his political opus on redistricting in the Wall Street Journal, it included the prescient line “he who controls redistricting can control Congress,” and one of his prime examples was how Pennsylvania Republicans had redrawn lines to turn an 11–10 Republican-Democrat split in districts based on the 1990 census into a 12–7 advantage following the 2000 census. Today, the conservative edge is even greater: 13–5 in favor of Republicans. As for the state legislature, the split is 121–82 in the House and 34–16 in the Senate. And yet Trump’s margin of victory in the last presidential election was a mere 44,292 votes out of six million cast, suggesting that the state is much more evenly divided politically than its legislature or congressional delegation would indicate.
Since the case in Pennsylvania relied on the state constitution, not on the U.S. Constitution, Reuters notes that the case could avoid being adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll see! 

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