Fitzpatrick, Lowenthal Lead Bipartisan Amicus Brief to SCOTUS Calling for End to Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering
U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today led a bipartisan coalition of 20 Republican and 20 Democrat current and former Members of Congress in submitting an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court regarding two cases before the Court that could stop the partisan gerrymandering of political districts.
The cases before the Court, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, both challenge gerrymanders where one party sought to diminish the voice of the respective minority party by drawing districts to support the political party in power. Rucho v. Common Cause is an example of a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina, while Lamone v. Benisek is an example of a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland.
In the brief, the Members point out to the Court that, “Extreme partisan gerrymandering harms our political system and harms the functioning of the House in particular. Extreme partisan gerrymandering is undemocratic and cannot be reconciled with the Framers’ idea of a House of Representatives that would be directly accountable to the People through competitive and broad-based elections. Excessive partisan gerrymandering makes it more difficult for Members to do the one job voters expect above all: delivering results for their constituents.”
In the brief, the Members also point out that the Supreme Court stated in a 2004 decision that, “…the core principle of republican government [is] that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
When legislators draw districts that ignore traditional criteria such as representational fairness, natural geography, and cohesive communities of interest, in favor of pure partisan gain, the brief explains, that “core principle” is violated.
“Partisan gerrymandering has exacerbated electoral complacency that causes lawmakers to focus on accumulating power rather than serving constituents and contributed to the growing divide of partisanship that grinds the gears of government to a halt,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick, a former FBI anti-corruption special agent. “The American people need fewer politicians and more independent voices focused on serving. Redistricting reform is a crucial, bipartisan step to ensuring our government remains one of, by and for the people – not just political insiders.”
“I was extremely disappointed last year, when the Supreme Court had the opportunity to once and for all rule that extreme partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional and counter to our founding principles,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “They have a second chance with these two important cases. Voters should be guaranteed choices at the ballot box, not treated like political pawns to keep entrenched power entrenched.”