The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

@DavidNir

Florida Court Blocks DeSantis’ Racist Gerrymander Map

A state court judge blocked Florida's new Republican-drawn congressional map from taking effect on Wednesday, ruling that it violates the state constitution because it "diminishes African Americans' ability to elect candidates of their choice." Circuit Judge Layne Smith, who was appointed to his current post by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, further ordered that the state implement a remedial map that restores the Fifth District in northern Florida to its previous Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee configuration and makes commensurate changes to neighboring districts.

At issue is a set of amendments reforming the redistricting process that voters approved in 2010, often known as the "Fair Districts" amendments. These amendments prohibit, among other things, the "retrogression" of minority voting rights in both congressional and legislative redistricting. As ACLU attorney Nicholas Warren explained, "This means no backsliding in minority voters' ability to elect candidates of choice"—which in the case of the Fifth District would mean a Black Democrat.

Indeed, the current representative for the Fifth, Al Lawson, fits that mold precisely. But to maximize GOP fortunes and please his base, DeSantis demanded a map that shattered the Fifth and transformed it from a safely blue district with a 46 percent Black plurality to a solidly red seat with a 67 percent white majority. That, said Smith in an oral ruling from the bench, violated the Fair Districts amendment that governs congressional line-drawing.

Republicans are certain to appeal, so Smith's decision may not stand. But it bears noting that the present east-west version of the Fifth District was ultimately blessed by the state Supreme Court in a 2015 ruling following a successful challenge to the GOP's prior map under the Fair Districts amendment. The high court has grown considerably more conservative since then thanks to appointments by DeSantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott, though as Warren noted, "the anti-retrogression mandate is a clear and uncontroversial part" of state law.

Whether that proves any sort of obstacle to the justices is the key question, though the appellate courts could also rule—as the U.S. Supreme Court regularly has in cases that disfavor Republicans—that it’s too late for Florida to change its map this year. Practically speaking, however, the state has three and a half months to prepare as Florida’s primary is not until Aug. 23.

The remedial plan adopted by Smith leaves the rest of DeSantis' map intact, but several other districts are still being challenged as partisan gerrymanders, which are also barred by the Fair Districts amendment.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Ohio's Supreme Court Blows Up GOP Gerrymandering Tricks

Ohio's Supreme Court struck down the state's new congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander designed to excessively favor Republicans on Friday and ordered legislators to draw new districts in compliance with the state constitution. The decision came just two days after the court invalidated the GOP's new legislative maps on similar grounds.

The majority, which saw Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a moderate Republican, join the court's three Democrats, used harsh language to castigate Republicans in its ruling. The foursome concluded that the congressional map Republicans adopted in a pair of party-line votes in November featured "undue political bias" that made it even worse than the already gerrymandered map it was replacing, "whether viewed through the lens of expert statistical analysis or by application of simple common sense."

At issue was a 2018 amendment approved by voters requiring lawmakers to pass a new congressional map in a bipartisan fashion, or, failing that, forbidding them from enacting a map that "unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents." Because Democrats stuck together and voted uniformly against the GOP’s maps—a fact the court took note of—Republicans were obligated to adhere to the provision regarding partisan favoritism.

The court ruled that they had not, saying, "When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins." Citing a variety of statistical measures, the majority slammed the map on account of the fact that Republicans were poised to "reliably win" 75 to 80 percent of seats despite "generally muster[ing] no more than 55 percent of the statewide popular vote." Wrote Justice Michael Donnelly, "By any rational measure, that skewed result just does not add up."

As a consequence, the court determined the entire map was invalid. It also ruled that Republicans had violated another provision directing that lawmakers "not unduly split governmental units" by chopping up three of Ohio's four largest counties for no reason other than to gain partisan advantage.

One egregious example was in Hamilton County, a blue county in the state's southwestern corner that's home to Cincinnati and voted for Joe Biden by a 57-41 margin in 2020. Hamilton on its own is close in population to the ideal district size, but instead of keeping it as close to whole as possible, Republicans divided it three ways, dumping the Cincinnati suburbs into two adjacent, safely red districts. The city itself, meanwhile, was linked to deeply rural Warren County via an isthmus just one mile wide—a detail the court highlighted with a map.

Lawmakers now have 30 days in which to pass a new map that, as the court stressed, "comports with the directives of this opinion"—with emphasis in the original. If they fail to do so, then the state's redistricting commission, on which Republicans have a 5-2 majority, would have another 30 days to complete the task. While the court did not explicitly say it would review any plans to ensure they're compliant (as it did in its ruling on the legislative maps), there's little doubt the majority will carefully scrutinize the final product—and potentially produce their own, should they find it lacking.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Poll Shows Biden Ahead In Deep-Red Texas District

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

To showcase just how extensively Trump's decline has shifted the playing field, the DCCC shared with the Washington Post details of an in-house poll it conducted of Texas' deep-red 25th Congressional District that finds Joe Biden edging Donald Trump 47-46 and puts Republican Rep. Roger Williams up just 45-43 on his Democratic challenger, attorney Julie Oliver.

That's a huge shift from 2016, when Williams' district went for Trump by a wide 55-40 margin. And that's exactly what Republicans intended: The 25th is part of a careful gerrymander that cracked the Austin area six ways and allowed the GOP to win five of those seats. One of those is Williams' district, which stretches far to the north toward Dallas-Forth Worth, combining a slice of the state capital with rural regions well outside of it.

Read Now Show less

Twitter Trolls Trump’s Silly ‘Space Force’ Uniforms

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The “United States Space Force,” a particularly bizarre Trump fever dream given life to feed the black hole of his ego, released their first uniforms to the public on Friday evening. 

Get a load of these beauts:

Love it! Don’t you? I see that and I definitely thing, “Yeah, space! Come get some!” And yet, some folks on Twitter had some issues with this new design, like Jrehling:

I’m not sure I see his point, but other Twitter users seemed to agree with him and offered a litany of alternate proposals for our budding space cadets. Here’s Harry Knuckles:

Comfortably Numb:

Bill Weir:

EJL:

Karmageddon:

Mrs Olson Says:

The Rebuttal:

Ethan Hildebrandt:

And Jackie D., among others:

Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about—and Dustin Miller agrees:

Go Space Farce!