SERIOUS NOTE: Calling judicial redistricting an “unwelcome obligation,” the redistricting opinion by our Supreme Court points out that congressional and state legislative districting stand “in contrast” to each other and reporting on the Democrats' decision in 2010 to give the courts free rein on congressional line drawing. Decisions' choice of points to make can be a subtle suggestion for legislative action.
In this case, legislators should consider – as far as federal law and constitutional obligations permit – harmonizing and tightening the standards for judicial action. Whether reviewing reapportionment or standing in for a failed legislative process, the courts need protection from the human urge to help the political side they personally benefited from – which has been the Democrats for two decades now. Doing so would prevent the Democrat-concocted risible “communities of interest” found in this decision. And it would help the courts avoid both legitimate and inaccurate claims they are actors in the political thicket instead of being, as they should, above that fray.
Chief Justice Bender's redistricting decision shows, again, his use of humor, starting with misdirection.
Bender: “Of paramount importance, we note the foundational goal of congressional redistricting under the United States Constitution: 'fair and effective [my bolding] representation for all citizens.'”
That's what our Supreme Court wants, yes? But, no!
Instead, Bender reports, “We agree with the trial court that '[a] competitive district requires candidates running for [and serving in] office to work very hard, listen to all views, and to reach out and engage as many people as possible.'”
Consider two scenarios.
First, all seven districts are maximally competitive, equally partisan balanced. No matter which party wins, 50% of Coloradans will have a congressperson who does NOT represent their views.
Second scenario: each district has a 60-40 split; some lean one way, some the other. But – key point – with this distribution of political power, 60% of Coloradans will have a congressperson who DOES represent their views.
Which plan offers “effective representation” for more people? Hands down, the non-competitive district plan rejected by the courts. Just what political science Prof. Thomas Brunell said.
Another technique in humor is to disconnect dialog from reality. Bender excels.
Bender approvingly quotes former Democratic House Majority Leader Weissman about why competitive districts are good. Weissman represented a district that had the thirteenth smallest percent of Republicans in our State House – a most uncompetitive district. (A madam preaching on chastity.)
Communities of interest provide Bender with serial laughter.
Create a district (CD 2) based on pine bark beetles (good). Add ips beetles to the pine bark ones for a true West Slope district, CD 3, (bad). Beetles? When did they get the vote?
Create a Boulder-Larimer district based on common mass transit use patterns (good). Avoid a Larimer-Weld district based on divergent mass transit use (bad). Larimer (0.86% transit use) matches better, Bender claims, to Boulder with Boulder's 5.4% transit use than to Weld (where transit use is 0.52%). It takes a real disassociation from reality to see that one.
Create CD 6 as an”exurb.” (Merriam Webster, exurb: “a region … outside a city … inhabited chiefly by well-to-do families.”) That fits CD 6, based on Aurora, population one-third of a million? And well-to-do fits Aurora where about two-thirds of one district's elementary schools kids get free or reduced price school lunches?
Democrats played the odds in redistricting. Democratic governors picked most Colorado judges, including Bender. The Democrats knew “their” judges would likely decide congressional lines, and appeals would hit our Democratic-appointed Supreme Court, characterized as among America's most partisan Supreme Courts.
Dem Sen. John Morse said the “court ought to be able to consider whatever…” when Democrats struck legal protections against a court run amok. The trial court simply followed Morse's rule and made up, ably assisted by counsel for the Democrats, “whatever” hokey-smokey reasons for adopting the Democrat's plan that tickled it.
So, hail to Chief Justice Bender. If we're gonna get snookered, at least we can laugh about it.
[The decision: courts.state.go.us/courts/supreme_court/opinions/2011/11sc842.pdf]