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Author Topic: US House Redistricting: Kentucky  (Read 24716 times)
jimrtex
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« on: January 10, 2011, 10:38:24 am »

Who drew the last map?  If it wasn't a GOP gerrymander then I think one can easily argue for a map that doesn't change much. 
In the past, redistricting was done after the gubernatorial election.

It is likely that redistricting data will be too late for completing work in the 2011 regular session, and there may be no desire to blow up the session, since any plan is going to have to be passed by both houses.  You get a necessarily bipartisan interim committee to create a plan over the summer.

The next gubernatorial term begins in early December.

So does Beshear call a special session during the summer to try and push through a Democratic hack plan?  Does he announce that he is not going to run for re-election so that he can concentrate on pushing through a Democratic hack plan before he gets an appointment in the Obama administration?  Does he call a lame duck session next November?  If he loses, the senate simply stalls.  If he wins, there is no reason to rush it.

Kentucky has a pretty reasonable plan, with one district for the largest city, one surrounding the second largest, and another for the 3rd largest concentration of population.  If either house objects to a plan, they simply let the courts impose a plan which will make the fewest changes from the current plan.

The only real question then is whether Owensboro gets flipped in exchange for the area southeast of Bowling Green.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 11:41:14 pm »

How exactly does he push through a "hack plan" (which a 4-2 map certainly is not) with a Republican Senate?
He calls a special session in the summer and presents his hack plan to the public, saying that he wants to help Obama out by giving Chandler a more favorable district.  And uses it as the central theme of his re-election campaign.  Chandler appears along side him, and says, we just barely hung on in 2010.  I need to get some of the Republicans out of my district.  Obama flies down and uses his condescending lecturing tone to tell the voters that now is not the time to cling to their religion and congressional districts.  You're right, it won't happen.

The plan where he decides not to run in exchange for an administration position won't happen.  And if he were to lose the election, he wouldn't have any leverage in a lame duck session.

So the map approved drawn in a special session in December 2012.  Everyone in the legislature is going to be eager to get it done, because the filing deadline is early February for a May primary.  The House member will be eager to get their map approved, and the senators to get their map approved, so they're not interested in getting hung up over the congressional plan.

On the Senate plan, just keeping the current districts helps the Republicans.  In many cases what has happened is that rural districts needed so more people so the district was extended into the suburbs of Louisville, Cincinnati, or Lexington.  Since these are the furthest out suburbs, they are the most Republican areas in the state.  The rural districts might have been somewhat competitive, but there might not have been a strong Republican candidate.  But now there are a lot of Republican voters, some good candidates, and the rural Republicans might vote for him.

In the House, there have been a lot of cracking and packing of Republicans and some really ugly districts with odd appendages and isthmuses.  House districts are a little larger than 1/3 the size of Senate districts (38 senators, 100 representatives).  So if a senate district needs 20,000 persons, then the 3 house districts in the same area will need about 20,000 as well.  If you put all 20,000 in one house district that is 1/2 of a district.  But if you split the 20,000 among 3 districts, you have fractured the suburban area and may not be able to find a strong candidate.

The same thing happens with the city districts which stretch outward like toothpaste maintaining the original core, but with enough added population to pass one man, one vote, but not enough to change the political character of the district.  And then you pack the rest of the Republican voters.

It doesn't appear that there have to be any complete shifts of districts.  The rural and coal areas have already been depopulated, and there is not massive influx of people into Kentucky.  So you sort of slide districts a little bit toward Louisville and Lexington.  There is no reason to get rid of districts so you don't have a reason or opportunity to dismember the occasional Republican-held district.  They might have to flip a couple of seats to the Republicans in the suburbs, but they can stretch the seats a little more.  To radically redo the House you would need Republican control of both houses and the governor, and that is going to be hard to accomplish.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 12:20:44 am »

I suppose here we have two issues. The first is whether the Pubbies think they will take it all in the 2011 election, and thus will stall and wait for the promise land. The second issue is assuming that they don't see that in the cards (taking everything), just how would a court draw the lines, which then becomes the "default" plan?  It would be against that backdrop, that the two parties would then bargain. And in that regard, it matters whether it ends up in federal or state court (and other than VRA challenges, I am confused in my mind, as a matter of legal procedure, just how and why these redistricting cases end up in federal court as opposed to state court, or visa versa. Does anyone know? Muon2 or Sam Spade)?

Federal versus state court matters, because if there is no map, the federal judges follow I think the least change rule, and try to make as few changes from the existing map for the prior decennial, as possible. State court judges however, for some reason follow no such rule, and just do their own thing. So whether a Kentucky map is drawn by a federal or state judge may matter, potentially a lot, although probably not in Kentucky's case. The existing map is pretty logical.
Kentucky only elects the governor in 2011.  The legislature is elected in 2012.  The primary is in May, and the legislature will be finishing up about the time they get census data.  So it is likely that you get a joint interim committee drawing up the congressional map during the summer, and perhaps separate committees for the two houses.  Beshear could call a special sesson during the summer.  But there is no reason to risk a blowup in a special redistricting session in the middle of election campaign when you are trying to portray yourself as the leader of the state, rather than the leader of your party.

So the redistricting gets done during the winter just before the filing deadline for the legislature.  The legislature also has an incentive to get the redistricting done, because they don't want the uncertainty of a court decision, which also delays filing, and ends up with minimal changes.  If the senate plan goes to a court, the court would be inclined to go with a Republican plan, since there are structural advantages that the Republicans simply need to maintain.  If the house plan goes to a court, there is greater risk for Democrats, since a court might not be inclined to make misshapen districts even worse in order to maintain partisan advantage.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 09:19:14 am »

And in that regard, it matters whether it ends up in federal or state court (and other than VRA challenges, I am confused in my mind, as a matter of legal procedure, just how and why these redistricting cases end up in federal court as opposed to state court, or visa versa. Does anyone know? Muon2 or Sam Spade)?
In Texas in 2001, it ended up in both federal and state court, and they actually held joint hearings.

As soon as the reapportionment was announced in 2000, the Democrats filed suit in federal court alleging that not only didn't Texas have 32 congressional districts, each of the existing 30 districts averaged 32/30 of the ideal population, and the legislature was unlikely to draw a legal plan since they hadn't for 4 decades in a row.  The court told them to cool their jets, but the case did ultimately end up in that district (Eastern).  The 1990s case was in the Southern district, and the Democrats did not like that decision.

The legislature met in 2001, and failed to draw congressional or legislative districts.  In Texas, if the legislature fails to redistrict itself, the Legislative Redistricting Board does so.  The LRB is comprised of various state officials (AG, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Lt.Governor, and House Speaker).  In 2001 this meant 4 Republicans and 1 Democrat, Pete Laney the House Speaker).  The LRB then drew its legislative plans, submitted them to the DOJ for VRA preclearance, and then made some minor adjustments - see Bexar County house districts which look like a bunch of bananas.  The federal did court did end up with jurisdiction for the legislative districts but mainly just grumbled.

During the summer it became clear that the legislature was not going to be called into session, so a state district court in Travis County devised a plan, which was the most reasonable congressional plan drawn during the decade.  If that plan had stood, the federal court would likely just have reviewed it and let it stand.  But the judge said that he was going to make a few tweaks to address concerns of Speaker Laney.  Laney may have been smarting from the LRB hearings in the summer, or perhaps the Democratic party had told him that Texas had never had a fair plan, and now wasn't the time to start.  But when the state district judge announced his "minor tweaks" they turned out to be quite extensive.  The Texas Supreme Court overturned the district court decision (on due process grounds, after having hearings with all the interested parties, he had gone and negotiated a deal with one of them).

Del Rio v Perry

The Texas Supreme Court then remanded the case to the district court, which didn't act, and at this point the federal court took over.  It ruled that the state district court had not produced a legal plan, and that there were no 32-district plans.  But it did use the 1996 30-district plan as reflecting past policy choices of the State.

2000s Redistricting

Federal versus state court matters, because if there is no map, the federal judges follow I think the least change rule, and try to make as few changes from the existing map for the prior decennial, as possible. State court judges however, for some reason follow no such rule, and just do their own thing. So whether a Kentucky map is drawn by a federal or state judge may matter, potentially a lot, although probably not in Kentucky's case. The existing map is pretty logical.
The federal court is expected to defer to the state courts.  I think the presumption is that the state courts are part of the process that the State has set out to take care of omissions by a state agency, whether this is implicit, as in Texas, or explicit as is the case in California.

The interest of the federal court is that the State not conduct an unconstitutional election.

See Growe v Emison.

In Texas, one of the issues was whether the AG represented the state, and could have his plan be the basis for the federal court, or whether the AG represented the legislature, which had not produced a plan.  Some of the dissents wanted to have the reasonable state court plan become the base plan for the federal court.

The federal court does not have authority to make policy decisions for a state.  They can only do enough to make an existing plan constitutional for the next election (2012).  Kentucky does have six congressional districts, that are all within about 10% of ideal population.

In Texas, there was never a valid 32-district plan, so the federal court drew a new plan, but did base it on the old 30-district plan as reflecting past policy choices, albeit of the 90s-era legislature.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 01:41:57 pm »

The GOP don't appear to have much of a good chance at taking out Beshear, so if I were a Republican Senate leader I'd agree to accept a favorable Senate map in exchange for strengthening Chandler.
The GOP doesn't have to do anything to get a favorable senate map.  Take a look at the existing house and senate maps.  In the case of the house look at the Louisville area.

The senate districts are of a large enough scale that they can be maintained by simply shifting people around.  So you have districts that kind of look like they are rural with 3 or 4 counties, but they will have one suburban county, which over time will become the dominant county.  So you end up with the suburban Republican vote well distributed over a bunch of districts, with sufficient clout that they can make the districts Republican.

The house districts are of a much smaller scale, so if you try to maintain incumbents you have to really have to have elongated districts.

So it will be the House Democrats who will be desperate for a legislative deal.  A court isn't going to radically redraw the congressional or senate map, there is a chance that it will happen for the House.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 12:25:51 am »

Ah, I never noticed that weird appendage in the first.
It wraps around Bowling Green.  There are probably more people in Bowling Green than in the area to its east.  KY-1 also just barely comes up to Owensboro.  I suspect you might have ended up splitting either city.  Since KY-1 needs some more population, it might make sense to take Owensboro this time, and switch the area east of Bowling Green to KY-2.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 05:14:44 pm »

There's 2 lawsuits - one by the Tea Party and the other by the ACLU. The ACLU seeks to have a panel of judges do the redistricting, but the Tea Party seeks to have the Tea Party do the redistricting. Because it's the Tea Party's birthright, don't ya know.
The two lawsuits are going to get combined, unless the ACLU suit is dismissed entirely.

You clearly have not read the original lawsuit. 

And if you think a federal court is going to unilaterally draw legislative districts, you are in LaLaLand.

Quote from: Greg Stumbo Speaker of the House of Representatives
There is nothing in the pending complaints that supports the federal court seizing control of the process and depriving the citizens of their right to act through the lawfully elected representatives.  This Court must recognize the right of the state to act through its elected representatives.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 08:15:30 pm »

And if you think a federal court is going to unilaterally draw legislative districts, you are in LaLaLand.

The panel of judges has already been selected.
The panel of judges is the same as has been selected to hear the real case, the one which have apparently not read the filings for.

There is a scheduling conference for both cases on the 20th in the same courtroom in Lexington at 1 pm, with the same judges.  The cases will be merged, or the ACLU case will be dismissed.

Repeat: If you think a federal court is going to unilaterally draw legislative districts, you are in LaLaLand
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jimrtex
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2013, 09:10:33 pm »

There is a scheduling conference for both cases on the 20th in the same courtroom in Lexington at 1 pm, with the same judges.  The cases will be merged, or the ACLU case will be dismissed.

Then why wouldn't the Tea Party case be dismissed?

The lead plaintiff in the original case is the county clerk of Boone County.  They sued Beshear and the legislature to act.  It is only if they fail to pass a redistricting bill. that they asked that the court draw a map.  It is quite normal for a court to ask for input from the prevailing party if they are forced to craft a solution.

The case is pretty simple:

The Commonwealth is abridging the right to vote.  They gave Kentucky an opportunity to run one last election on unconstitutional boundaries, and they still haven't fixed the problem.  Kentucky is being put under a deadline to act.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2013, 02:11:03 am »

The county clerk is suing on behalf of the Tea Party.

The Tea Party tries to sue its way into office.

The governor now says he expects the issue will be resolved in a special session.   Before he had planned to wait until next January.

The ACLU filed two weeks after the suit in Covington, and left out the governor and the legislature.  The ACLU filed in a remote city that ordinary decent citizens rarely travel to.
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