The Supreme Court and Texas redistricting.

Well the Supreme Court has done it again, made a mess of a simple question. They have neither resolved the issue in a way that ends this dispute with finality, nor given consistent and coherent guidelines. In fact we will see more of this funny business across the country from now on. For forty years the court has been screwing around with redistricting. Once upon a time, the Supreme Court stipulated that compactness and communities of interest were critical guidelines in drawing districts.

The districts drawn in Texas were thorough violations of principles of compactness and community’s of interest. Gerrymandering is an old tradition, and was given new life by the the Supreme Court when it invalidated numerous districts in the early sixties. In Texas in 2003, gerrymandering has reached it logical conclusion, through a logical progression. In Texas, the GOP leadership acting under nearly incomprehensible rules and in accordance with the incentives of greater party power and money interests, made no pretense of fair play, and gave no thought to the needs of the state or country, only the party. We shouldn’t be surprised when crooks respond to an incentive, but we should consider eliminating the incentive.

The Supreme Court’s assumed power to review Constitutionality is not in the Constitution and seems in practice to fail miserably. Whether the issue is redistricting, slavery, voting rights, property rights, and of course abortion, the Supreme Court is unable to settle these issues. The court arrives at decisions, but they are rarely accepted as the final word on policy issues. The court merely randomizes the process of achieving an outcome. Each time the court interferes, one can never be sure of the outcome, though one can be sure there will be additional complications.

The justices represent no voters and therefore cannot settle policy questions. They are surely not Tribunes of the people. The Taney court broadened the scope of slavery. Far from ending that debate, the Republican party was formed to destroy slavery. The Warren court made abortion theoretically, legally available in all states. Their decision ignited an ongoing controversy that created and fueled the Religious Right political movement in America. And in practical terms abortion is highly restricted in availability, perhaps more restricted than if left to the states individually to have decided. Far from settling issues, the court fans the outrage of those who fail in the court. The have no power of persuasion or coercion.

Both the elites of the Right and the Left appeal to the court when they can’t or won’t bother to persuade enough voters to their view. They view the court as a quick fix that avoids the messy business of making a good case for their view and persuading the voters over time. The true believers storm the court and we all live with the wreckage.

The Supreme court is the eight-ball of American politics, it is problematic and should be eliminated. What we need is a new government.


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