Let's Fix This Country

We Sent a Letter to the Supreme Court on Gerrymandering

It is expected that the Supreme Court, having grown weary of dealing with one after another state stacking the deck against the opposition political party by the way they draw electoral districts, will in June, in cases brought against Maryland and the notorious North Carolina, come up with general rules for states to follow to avoid the gavel's blow in the future.

But as we've argued here, here, and here, the whole ugly business of two centuries of gerrymandering could be swiftly ended if the black-robbed solons could only do some 21st Century catch-up.

In February, we sent the following letter — individually addressed to each of the nine justices — in the hopes of awakening them to technological possibilities. It will do no good, of course. Wouldn't you know, not one of them — they each have staffs, after all — had the courtesy to reply. Not so much as a form letter, an e-mail acknowledgement, zero:

                 February 23, 2019
The Honorable
The Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20543

Dear Justice        ,

The Court is again about to hear cases involving gerrymandering. News reports infer that you and fellow justices may attempt to arrive at limits how far lawmakers can go in mapping electoral districts. It will probably be difficult to come up with other than general rules or guidelines and that will lead to still further challenges, a stream of cases to deal with one-by-one that the Court would rather avoid.

We write only to make something apparent that may not be. Gerrymandering today is done with computer software than optimizes far more than humans could in the past, which makes the practice all the more troubling for its creating impregnable districts to benefit whichever party is in power.

This you know. What may not be apparent is that same software — algorithms that know how to work with geography, census and voting data — can be reworked to create entirely agnostic election districts that pay no attention to political party, voting patterns, or ethnic groups. Software that begins by dividing a state geographically into the requisite number of districts, then iteratively shapes them, keeping neighborhoods contiguous, delivering the result that each district contains as close as possible to equal numbers of people. True, impartial democracy.

(In fact, this has already been done, and by a single Massachusetts individual. An article can be found here:    wapo.st/2GYaJrW      )

It's understood that the Supreme Court cannot write laws forcing this method on the states. Article I, Section 4 grants states control of elections. But the Court could urge in the strongest terms that the above-outlined approach be adopted. Your imprimatur could spur follow-up by citizen groups.

It is stunning that gerrymandering, a grotesque corruption of democracy, has been allowed to exist during almost all the nation's history. We now have at hand an entirely neutral way to rid us of this scourge altogether.

Respectfully submitted,

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