The decision by Senator Gregg not to become Commerce Secretary is the first round in a vital battle over reapportionment and redistricting. US Code Title 13, Section 2 provides "The Bureau [of the Census] is an agency within, and under the jurisdiction of, the Department of Commerce." Article I Section 2 of the Constitution states that Congress, not the President, defines the census process. If President Obama tries to politically manage the census process, he will violate federal law and the Constitution.
The number of representatives each state gets depends upon the number of people in each state, as counted by the census every ten years. Because there are a fixed number of House seats to be divided among the states -- 435 House seats -- reapportionment is a zero sum game: a state can only gain House seats if another state loses House seats. The Left wants to replace the census count with a census "guess" based upon a formula. Any formula will be based on politically charged assumptions, like assuming that ten percent of Hispanics do not respond to census workers, so the number of Hispanics in a canvassed area is "assumed" to be ten percent higher than the actual count.
When the census is completed, state legislatures must draw new congressional and state legislative districts based upon the new population data. Gerrymandering is the drawing of legislative district lines to help the party which controls the state legislature. Packing all Republicans in a state into a few congressional and state legislative districts means that most the legislative races will be won by Democrats, even if there are an equal number of Republican and Democrat voters. Gerrymandering has been around a long time, but computer software now makes the gerrymandering process much more exact and effective.
If Democrats use a census "formula" to artificially count the number of people in different part of the nation and if Democrats at the state level also gerrymander congressional and state legislative districts, then Democrats can make it very easy for them to win most congressional and state legislative races.
What can we do to stop this? Republicans in Congress should introduce a bill to require that all legislative districts in our nation be drawn without partisan advantage. This would create a statutory framework for Republicans to challenge in court any form of gerrymandering at the congressional or state legislative level. Democrats loudly condemned Tom Delay when he encouraged Texas Republicans to redraw Texas congressional districts so that district boundaries were more favorable to Republicans. How can Democrats defend what they accused Republicans of doing? This is the sort of bill which even RINOs could support. In November 2007, when asked by the Midwest Democracy Project, Obama expressed support for ending gerrymandering. Republicans should begin, as soon as practicable, to make the congressional abolition of gerrymandering a defining difference between the two political parties.
Republicans should begin to inform voters in swing states like New Hampshire, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa just how much political clout and federal money a crassly partisan Obama census process would cost the people and politicians of those states. Republicans should encourage bipartisan state resolutions to demand a census free of theoretical projections and guessing. Reapportionment produces as many losers as winners. It is for just this reason that it must be fair. The losers are never happy. Republicans must, as soon as practicable, let voters in states which would be cheated with a partisan census count know what Democrats are planning for them.
Republicans can stop Democrat gerrymandering by controlling one house of a state legislature or by controlling the governorship of the state. Several big states held by Democrats will elect governors in 2010: New York, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. Republicans ought to focus attention on winning as many of these governorships as they can. The Republican disadvantage in state legislatures is marginal. Until the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, Republicans had more muscle than Democrats in these legislatures. An unpopular Obama Administration in 2010 could produce a natural backlash against the Democrat ticket and return control of several state legislative chambers to Republicans. Actually, the Republican task is even easier: Democrats need to control both legislative chambers and, unless they have a veto-proof majority, the governor as well. All Republicans need is one legislative chamber or the governor and enough votes to sustain a veto in one legislative chamber to prevent gerrymandering.
The good news is this: fair reapportionment and unbiased construction of legislative districts naturally favors Republicans. People have been moving for decades from states run by the Left into states that free market approaches to government. The "Red" states have been winning electoral votes and congressional seats at the expense of "Blue" states during each reapportionment since 1960. Gerrymandering is a political vice which has helped Democrats much more than it has helped Republicans over the last fifty years. Ending gerrymandering nationally will automatically improve Republican electoral prospects in Congress and in state legislatures. But Republicans must be bold, be vocal, and be tenacious.