Leftist judges cry about gerrymandering in Michigan because it doesn't benefit Democrats

A panel of federal judges on Thursday ruled that 34 of the 162 congressional and state legislative districts drawn by the Michigan State Legislature, controlled by Republicans, violated the constitutional rights of Democrat voters in Michigan by putting as many Democrats as possible into as few as possible "safe" Democrat congressional and state legislative districts and then creating as many as possible Republican-leaning in the remaining districts.

That is precisely what the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature did, just as it is precisely what the Democrat-controlled Michigan Legislature had done for decade after decade before Republicans gained parity in state legislative strength after the 1994 Republican midterm landslide.

In fact, what Republicans in the Michigan Legislature did was just what Democrats had done in every single state in which they controlled state government for the last century.  Consider this chart from the National Conference of State Legislatures of state legislative control by state from 1978 to 1988 and the period from 1990 to 2000

These charts show that during a period in which Republicans were winning presidential elections, often easily, Republicans were almost extinct at the state legislative level.  In 1990, Republicans controlled the legislatures of only six of the fifty states.  In January of 1986, after Reagan won the greatest presidential landslides in modern political history, carrying 49 and almost 50 states, Republicans controlled only nine state legislatures. 

Why did Republicans do so pathetically in state legislative elections?  Why, in 1980, the year of the first Reagan landslide, did House Republican candidates in California, who won more of the popular vote that Democrat candidates in the same races in California, win a paltry number of congressional races in California, a state in which Reagan had been a popular two-term governor?

Democrat gerrymandering in state legislative and congressional races was the reason why Democrats were able to win a majority of these races with, often, a minority of the total vote.  Republicans on numerous occasions throughout the 20th century sought to have federal courts strike down these Democrat-drawn districts as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Democrats in defending this litigation did not even pretend that they were not engaged in blatant partisan gerrymandering.  They argued, instead, and federal judges agreed with them that partisan gerrymandering was perfectly constitutional.  The Democrat congressman who drafted the grotesque congressional map of California even bragged about how many seats Republicans would lose with the new districts (and he was right).

So is the problem today, as federal judges and Democrats complain, that Republican gerrymandering has gotten much worse than Democrat gerrymandering was in the past?  Recall that after Reagan's 1984 landslide, Republicans controlled only nine state legislatures, and then consider that after the 2018 midterms, Democrats controlled 18 state legislatures, with one state legislature divided. 

Republican gerrymandering at its worst was not remotely as anti-democratic as Democrat gerrymandering has been at its best.  Even a cursory review of the partisan composition of state legislatures since 1994, when Republicans finally broke through a century of iron control of state legislatures, shows that both parties have a much better chance of competing for control of almost any state legislature than in the past decades of Democrat gerrymandering.

The Michigan State Legislature, that Republican legislature whose redistricting over the last couple of cycles so troubles the panel of federal judges seeing the imagined menace of Republican gerrymandering, has the two houses of the legislature with the following breakdown:  Michigan Senate: 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats; Michigan House: 58 Republicans and 52 Democrats. 

This is more than enough to allow Democrats in a good year to capture the Michigan Legislature.  Indeed, after the 2000 Census, Republicans controlled the Michigan Legislature, but in spite of drawing Michigan's state legislative districts, by 2009, control of the Michigan Legislature was divided between the two parties.  That ought to be the goal of truly fair state legislative redistricting: control of one or both houses of the state legislature could be won by either political party in the next election cycle.

Leftists, however, who infest not just Washington and the national media, but also the federal bench and legal profession, do not care one whit about fairness or honesty or meaningful elections.  They care only about power.

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