Redistricting Disputes

March 12, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 10
Should the courts limit partisan gerrymandering?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

A Waco, Texas, resident opposes a congressional redistricting plan proposed last year by the state's Republicans. Despite opposition from Democrats, Republican lawmakers in Texas last year redrew the state's districts.  (AP Photo/Waco Tribune-Herald, Duane A. Laverty)
A Waco, Texas, resident opposes a congressional redistricting plan proposed last year by the state's Republicans. Despite opposition from Democrats, Republican lawmakers in Texas last year redrew the state's districts. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune-Herald, Duane A. Laverty)

Disputes over partisan redistricting, or gerrymandering, date back to the nation's earliest days, and the once-a-decade process was as contentious as ever following the 2000 census. New computer technology now gives map drawers unprecedented precision to make districts nearly impregnable by stuffing them with party loyalists. Republican-drawn maps in some key states helped the GOP gain House seats in the 2002 midterm congressional elections, which saw significantly less turnover than in similar elections during the last 30 years. Then, in an unusual move, Republicans re-opened the redistricting process in Colorado and Texas, prompting the Democrats to try to get mid-decade re-mappings declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also is considering a case that could set some limits on partisan gerrymandering. Some citizens' groups say that using independent bodies to redraw the maps would ensure partisan fairness, competitiveness and stability.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Elections
Oct. 12, 2018  Election Security and Voting Rights
Nov. 04, 2016  The Obama Legacy
Oct. 29, 2010  Democrats' Future
Apr. 24, 2009  Judicial Elections
May 30, 2008  Changing U.S. Electorate Updated
Mar. 12, 2004  Redistricting Disputes
Nov. 02, 2001  Election Reform
Oct. 20, 2000  Low Voter Turnout
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Party Politics
Reapportionment and Redistricting