SCOTUS: GOP, DeLay win big in Texas redistricting case

To the state victors go the congressional spoils.

Better that legislatures draw the lines than courts, but better still that some objective standard, like a grid, be used. Lines like this, from the AP story, make me wince:

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said Hispanics do not have a chance to elect a candidate of their choosing under the plan.

De facto racial gerrymanders not only do more, arguably, to disempower minorities than to empower them (by shunting them out of areas where their votes might decide the election and into majority-minority districts), but they’re poisonous in providing an infrastructure to support identity politics. Non-racial gerrymanders provide an infrastructure, too, of course — of incumbency, by making 90% of congressional elections foregone conclusions. It ends up as a quasi-parliamentary system where each district is configured so that the party is assured a seat no matter whom it nominates; they might as well have the people vote by party and then let the winner choose whom among its ranks it wants to send to Congress.

Moran notes, correctly, that the real blockbuster is the Court’s holding that state legislatures can redraw district lines anytime they want instead of just once per decade. Which means, obviously, that local elections just got a lot more important vis-a-vis national business. Good news for federalism and better news for the GOP if it rolls craps in the Congressional elections this November but holds power at the state level. We’ll see how various state legislatures take the news, and which ones move quickly to press the majority party’s advantage.

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