Senate 46 lawsuit to be heard.

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

Emmet Bondurant, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the lower court judge was wrong when he ruled lawmakers can redraw legislative maps without a specific reason.

“They don’t argue that it was necessary,” Bondurant said Friday. “They just say the legislature can do it any time they want.”

While Democrats argue that Republican lawmakers changed district lines to give Cowsert an edge over Kidd, Republicans said they approved the changes to appease a 5-year-old request by commissioners in Madison County, who wanted their county to entirely be in one Senate district.

Bondurant said he does not expect the high court’s ruling to affect the Nov. 7 election. If they find in favor of his clients, he said, they likely would require new elections to be held in three Athens-area districts based on their old boundary lines.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m happy to play one online. It seems to me the Legislature can redistrict anytime they want. If that’s what the lawsuit is based on, I can’t see the plaintiffs winning.

Some years ago, a Rep. in Gwinnett named Vinson Wall wanted to draw a troublesome constituent out of his district. He had the Legislature change his district to exclude that voter. The new district lines contained what looked like a finger so the headline in the next day’s paper said “Wall gives Gwinnett the finger.” Despite the uproar, the district remained until the next Census.

5 comments

  1. Know Nothing says:

    I was unaware of the actions taken by Vison Wall, however, might I be the first one to say that drawing a particular person our of your district is awesome.

  2. Buzz,

    Having a map with +/- 5% deviation was never illegal until a court ruled it was in Georgia in 2004. In fact, many many other states still have this level of deviation. So I think the moral of all political stories is it’s only legal or illegal until a court rules otherwise.

    Cowsert used his allies in the legislature to draw this district for him. Kidd’s constituents are merely using the courts as a counterbalance. To each his own!

  3. atlantaman says:

    “Having a map with +/- 5% deviation was never illegal until a court ruled it was in Georgia in 2004.”

    That wasn’t really the problem the courts had, it was the +5% in all the Republican districts and the -5% in all the Democrat districts. If it really was true deviation it would have been acceptable, but it came down to lack of equal representation for Republicans. The courts saw a very clear and pre-mediated pattern of denying voters who happened to live in a designated Republican district the same level of representation of a voter who happened to live in a designated Democrat district. In short, the unfortunate voters who lived in a Republican district recieved 10% less representation the a voter living in a Democrat district.

    This whole Kidd thing is completely different as I don’t think there is a significant population difference in each district.

  4. Atlantaman, it depends on how you read the Larios case. The Larios case, to me, clearly says that excessive deviation is not allowed if there was a way to do it otherwise, or in other words you can’t use excessive deviation to attain a means to an end such as a partisan map.

    Ralph Hudgens, who is a lying piece of crap, claimed that the only way to unify his beloved Madison County was to split Clarke in the way his map that eventually passed did. But, the Democrats proved (thanks to Keith Heard’s amendment) that Madison could be unified without splitting an additional county (merely swap the portion of Madison in SD 46 for the portion of Elbert in SD 47) and the overall deviation would decrease, instead of increasing as it did with Hudgen’s map.

    Now, I don’t think the court’s ruling in Larios meant 4.9% or even 1.2% or even .9% is allowed but 5% isn’t. I think the principle the court was trying to get across, so far we’re not sure, but I think what they are striving towards and eventually the Supreme Court will probably agree is that if there is a standard like low deviation and keeping other political districts more or less whole (like counties) then if you used excessive deviation and it can be proven that you didn’t adhere to these other principles, the map is suspect and could be thrown out.

    This state lawsuit is a bit different, I think, it basically argues that you can’t redistrict mid decade if you are already operating under a fair map. Republicans used to make a big stink out of this, but with this Kidd district and also the Geisinger district it’s clear that they took compact districts and made them less so for political reasons.

    Instead of righting what they thought was a political wrong and doing the “Grown up thing” they have just been assured that payback will eventually be a bitch. Whether it comes from a court or a future Democratic assembly is the only unknown variable here.

  5. atlantaman says:

    Well to my knowledge the Legislature has the right to draw their districts as they see fit (as long as they are approved under the VRA). I don’t think there is any Constitutional provision that states the time they redraw the lines and I’m fairly certain they can draw lines anytime they damn well please as “unfair” as that may seem to some people. I’m not aware of the Legislature having to even give a reason for the redraw, although one would be nice.

    Now equal representation is a Constituional principle, which why districts are always redrawn at least every 10 years because there is new census/population data to utilize and make sure there is equal representation.

    In order for a judge to rule in favor of Kidd on the first example, he would have to kind of create some kind of “election district drawing timing unfairness” law – which would not be unprecedented for a judge to just create a law like that.

    The second example was clearly and issue of equal representation. +/-5% deviation is a statistical term and not supposed to be considered 10% bonus for Democrats. Any logical person/judge could look at the Barnes districts and see that when every Republican district had 5% more and every Democrat district had 5% less then it quit being an issue of statistical deviation and became an issue of equal representation.

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