Average Joe SCOTUS – Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill

There’s this thing some politicians do called Gerrymandering, where they draw election districts in really weird ways so as to help their side win elections. It’s often reffered to as “stacking and cracking,” but here’s how it can work.

Let’s say the government awards every 2,000 constituents with a congressional representative, and you have a state with a population of 10,000, so you get five congressional reps as a result.

Now, let’s assume your state is evenly divided, 5,000 Republicans, and 5,000 Democrats. If you divided your state up in very equal ways, you’d potentially have five districts where 1,000 are Democrats and 1,000 are Republicans each—a fair division.

Now let’s imagine Democrats control congress at the time when districts are redrawn. So what they do, is draw the districts in such a way that two of those districts have 2,000 Democrats and zero Republicans (that’s “stacking”), then the remaining 1,000 (333ish) Democrats are divided up into three districts which have the remaining 5,000 Republicans (1,666ish). That’s an example of “cracking.”

You see what just happened right? What should have been a tight race is now always going to be a state which picks three Democrats and two Republicans, and therefore Republicans will always lose.

Gerrymandering is a fascinating and way more complicated thing than I outlined above. So if the above interests you in the slightest, and you want to know more, check out this series of podcasts called “The Gerrymandering Project” from the statistics geniuses at 538. It’s fascinating, interesting, and most of all, non-partisan and factual. There’s no agenda with 538, other than being right.

Now, about these assholes at the Virginia House of Delegates.

The 14th amendment says:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Back in 2014, twelve voters, presumably black, citing the 14th amendment, argued they were not getting equal protection under the law, because their state was being gerrymandered along racial lines, and therefore, their votes were being minimized unfairly.

In 2017, they made it to SCOTUS, and SCOTUS said 11 out of 12 looked shady AF, but one seemed fair enough. Basically, in those 11 districts, Virginia Republicans drew that map with a standard of having at least 55% black voting-age people in them. They argued this was because those districts were predominantly black, and thus, represented them all fairly, which is required in the federal Voting Rights Act.

But the opposition argued that basically, they “packed” those 11 districts with black voters, so that several of the other 129 of 140 districts could be favorable to Republicans.  If this was their motive, versus complying with federal law, then it’s some racist bullshit.

Before y’all jump on the “Republicans are racists” bandwagon, remember that black voters pull the lever for Democrats to the tune of 80% on average. So it could be that it’s purely trying to maximize votes, and not driven by any racial hatred.

SCOTUS wasn’t having that 55% bullshit as a fair test for redistricting. So they sent it back to the lower court and told them to they fucked up reviewing it previously, allowing that 55% number to slide, so try again, fix it, and quit bothering us.

The lower court agreed, it was some racist gerrymandering bullshit and said those 11 districts were unconstitutional and ordered them to be redone.

So then, the assholes from the Virginia House of Delegates were like, “Listen, SCOTUS! This is bullshit. We did this right and we want another bite of this fucking apple.”

SCOTUS was asked to rule on several aspects.

Were those 11 districts fucked up?

Did the lower court fuck up in adjudicating the Virginia House of Delegates work?

And should the Virginia Delegates even have a right to sue in the first place since the state of Virginia didn’t challenge the lower court, nor the people who started the civil action. The Virginia Delegates are just people who might lose some votes as a result.

SCOTUS decided 5:4 to dismiss. They told the Virginia delegates to go eat a bag of dicks. You’ve got no business here, and we’re not even going to bother answering your other two questions. If Virginia doesn’t have a problem with the decision, it’s not your fight to fight. Capiche? Now fuck off.

 

Read about the case and/or hear oral arguments here.

 

 

 

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