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GOP should keep promise on redistricting

There is a growing consensus that the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate should keep their promise and create a nonpartisan commission to develop redistricting plans this year.  The Greenville Daily Reflector editorialized about it today.

Republican Senator Phil Berger, the presumptive President Pro Tem of the Senate, recently joined his colleagues in saying that there’s not time to set up the commission this session and that he would support putting it in place for the 2021 redistricting process.

As I wrote in the Fitzsimon File last week, that’s actually not true. There may not be time this year to pass a constitutional amendment to set up the commission, but it could be created by statute early in the session.

That would fulfill the spirit, if not the letter of the Republicans’ vow, and would go a long way toward removing the partisanship from the process.

The question is will Republicans keep their promise or are they just for open, transparent government when they are in the minority?

5 Comments

  1. Dave Burton

    November 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Chris, exactly one (1) Democrat in the NC Legislature has any credibility w/r/t redistricting: Sen. Ellie Kinnaird. The rest had no interest in fair districts until the Republicans were in the majority.

    Republicans never “promised” to create an independent redistricting commission. Rather, most of them supported various bills to create a non-partisan process for redistricting, in the State Constitution, so that it would be used for drawing districts regardless of which Party controlled the State legislature. Republicans in the legislature certainly never supported “unilateral disarmament,” i.e., non-partisan redistricting when Republicans are in control, but partisan gerrymanders when Democrats are in control. That’s what we would have if the Republicans created a non-partisan redistricting commission for use only in 2011, as you are advocating.

    To claim that the Republicans promised THAT is an extreme misrepresentation of their position. You know better, Chris!

    Republicans introduced HB-35 (the best bill to eliminate gerrymanders) and its predecessors five(!) times, twice in the Senate and thrice in the House, but the Democrats consistently refused to support it or even permit a committee hearing on it. (They also introduced various other redistricting reform bills, which many Republicans supported, and one of which Democrat Ellie Kinnaird supported, but the Democratic leadership wouldn’t permit even a committee hearing on ANY of them.)

    HB-35 would have amended the State Constitution to create a fair redistricting process, immune to partisan gerrymanders. But not one Democrat co-sponsored it, or expressed support for it in any way. (Then-freshman Sen. Janet Cowell personally promised me that she would co-sponsor the first version of it, SB-997, in 2005, but then she reneged.)

    Here you can find links to HB-35 and its four predecessors, which many Republicans but no Democrats supported, as well as my Carolina Journal article on this approach to redistricting reform:
    http://www.burtonsys.com/redist.html

    The Republicans are promising fair and legal districts (unlike the blatant gerrymanders that the Democrats perpetrated), and now the Democrats will just have to take the Republicans’ pledge on faith. The Democrats could have amended the State Constitution to create a fair process in time for the 2011 redistricting, but now it is too late. The only way they could do it at this late date would be to call a special lame-duck session to get the HB-35 Constitutional Amendment on the May, 2011 Primary ballot.

    Remember when the Democrats passed the gubernatorial veto? Well, they were afraid that a Republican governor might veto a Democrat gerrymander, so they made an exception to the veto authority: the governor can’t veto a redistricting plan. As always, the Democrats were trying to game the system. But now a Republican legislature will draw the districts and the Democratic governor has no veto over the process, which is why the Democrats are hoist on their own petard.

  2. [...] in our elections has been pushed by people across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to progressives, and from establishment Republicans to establishment Democrats. Because redistricting benefits the [...]

  3. [...] in our elections has been pushed by people across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to progressives, and from establishment Republicans to establishment Democrats. Because redistricting benefits the [...]

  4. [...] in our elections has been pushed by people across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to progressives, and from establishment Republicans to establishment Democrats. Because redistricting benefits the [...]

  5. [...] in our elections has been pushed by people across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to progressives, and from establishment Republicans to establishment Democrats. Because redistricting benefits the [...]