The Instigator
Capitalistslave
Con (against)
The Contender
leedle
Pro (for)

Gerrymandering should remain legal in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/23/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 week ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 121 times Debate No: 97297
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (0)

 

Capitalistslave

Con

Round 1: Acceptance/Intro/Brief explanation of your position
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: More Rebuttals/Conclusion

Definition:
Gerrymander: "Manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favour one party or class."

I believe gerrymandering limits democracy and promotes corruption. It should be illegal.
leedle

Pro

Hello, I would like to accept this debate

First and foremost, I would like to say that this form of manipulation is merely used as a strategy to keep a political party in office and does not favor any particular party as anybody could use it (democrats, republicans, etc.)

I don"t believe political gerrymandering limits democracy in any way and it is justifiably constitutional.
Debate Round No. 1
Capitalistslave

Con

First, my opponent suggested that anybody could use gerrymandering to their advantage, however this is not the case. Whoever is in power at the time is the party that benefits from gerrymandering(as it's the party in power that sets up the districts), and when redistricting occurred after the 2010 census, the republicans had control of the house of representatives. In a study conducted by Princeton university, it was found that 6 of the 9 worst cases for states that have gerrymandered districts were republican controlled or determined by republicans, 2 were bipartisan or neutral, and only one was controlled or determined by democrats.[1] Over all, of the ones that were republican controlled, a total of 13 extra districts had a republican take control of the seat in comparison to what the popular vote of the whole state would have done. In other words, they got 13 extra seats from gerrymandering that they wouldn't have had if the districts were made to represent the people properly. [1] In comparison, the democratic controlled ones only saw 1 extra seat that is controlled by a democrat that shouldn't be if gerrymandering didn't exist. [1] Gerrymandering, in this case, clearly benefits the republicans the most. So, if we subtract one from 13, that means the republicans have an extra 12 seats, and those would normally be democrat. That is a 24 seat swing, and that is only from the 9 worst cases of gerrymandering. There are other cases as well, and the house would be democrat-controlled if it was properly representing the people, but it is not.

In addition, when you look at the house of representatives, the percent of people who voted for a democrat in the entire country was 50.4%, yet the republicans are the ones who control the house.[1] This was made possible through gerrymandering districts where all the democrats are in one district and/or a very small majority of republicans are in another. So, this indicates that gerrymandering does limit democracy, since if the house of representatives was democratic(not the party but I mean democratic as in representing the people) it would have a democratic party majority, but it doesn't.

Furthermore, 57% of Americans want a third party to step up[2] and a plurality(42%) don't identify with the republican or democratic parties[3]. Though gerrymandering clearly benefits the republicans the most, it does also benefit to some extent, both of the major two parties. If it didn't, 42% of representatives would be neither republican nor democrat. I admit there are other reasons why we have almost no independent or third party representatives, and one other reason is that we don't have ranked preference voting, but gerrymandering certainly worsens this fact as well. If we were truly democratic, 42% of the house of representatives would not be republican or democrat.

Now, while there is nothing in the constitution that specifically forbids gerrymandering, recently a federal court ruled gerrymandering unconstitutional in Wisconsin in that it "violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it aimed to deprive Democratic voters of their right to be represented." [4] Basically it can be argued that gerrymandering does violate the first amendment, which gives us a right to freedom of speech and the 14th amendment which gives us equal protection under the law. And, this was clearly the case since in Wisconsin, 50.8% of the people voted for a democrat, but 5 of the 8 of the representatives there are republican. [1] Pennsylvania is perhaps even worse since 50.7% of the people there voted for democrats, yet 13 out of the 18 representatives are republican.[1]

Finally, only 40% of Americans approve the job their own representative is doing, while 48% disapprove[5]. This is further indication that the house of representatives doesn't actually represent the people, and it can be argued that gerrymandering is contributing to this as shown above. Again, I admit there are other reasons for these statistics, but it can be logically concluded that gerrymandering is contributing to this.

Sources:
[1] http://election.princeton.edu...
[2] http://www.gallup.com...
[3] http://www.gallup.com...
[4] http://www.nytimes.com...
[5] http://www.people-press.org...
leedle

Pro

In the case for the 2010 republican blow out, this was a reactionary measurement republicans took as a result of Obama"s victory and his terrible health care agenda. The republicans planned these state representative victories and redistricting for years unlike the democrats who were focused on the presidency. The democrats could have had the same effect, but they were focused on the wrong thing.

We aren"t a democracy, but rather a democratic republic, ergo much more of the power is put on the elected government officials who can use that power to realign districts. The politician would use a strategy called hijacking where the districts are redrawn so as to make officials from the same political party run against each other, which would result in one of them being eliminated.

1. Partisan gerrymandering was found constitutional under the basis that minorities were aloud to vote for who they wanted to despite the redrawing of the political borders; they don"t have less of an opportunity.

2. The disproportionality of the borders is not a built-in-bias that particularly gives minorities less of a chance, instead, it is a result of a particular political party not winning the elections thus not giving them a good enough chance at winning.

-The part of the constitution that is in question is the equal protection clause.

3. The redistricting is a strategy to give power to a certain political party, which is constitutionally permissible and here"s why. The polls don"t display the effects of the supposed discrimination claimed to be brought on by political gerrymandering. In the case that democrats have an unfair advantage in republican states as a result of gerrymandering and vise versa, it is clear that neither democrats nor republicans have a disadvantage because their votes do in fact count and it shows in the polls. The seeming favor of one side could just be a result of an official attracting voters from both sides. I do agree that the dilution of the votes is unconstitutional, but the equal protection clause is still upheld because there is no unfair representation and nobody has been shut out of the political process.

In the case for Wisconsin, gerrymandering was undoubtedly evident, but they realized that it was the one corrupt incumbent so they replaced him/her with a group of elected officials. This is true for other states, but the fact of the matter is that political gerrymandering is not unconstitutional. Be this as it may, states such as Wisconsin have found ways to circumvent such a controversial tactic.
In the case for the 2010 republican blow out, this was a reactionary measurement republicans took as a result of Obama"s victory and his terrible health care agenda. The republicans planned these state representative victories and redistricting for years unlike the democrats who were focused on the presidency.
Debate Round No. 2
Capitalistslave

Con

My opponent brings up how 2010 was a republican blowout, this is true, but I would argue the reason they have maintained control of the house is because of gerrymandering. As pointed out in the previous round, there are at least 13 seats they gained or are maintaining from gerrymandering recently.

If we are a democratic republic like my opponent argues for, then gerrymandering wouldn't be allowed. A democracy is a system of government in which the people directly vote for every law. A democratic republic would be a system where the representatives are directly voted by the people and the representatives actually represent the people well. In our case, they don't represent the people as I pointed out with how a plurality of people are neither democrat nor republican, and majority want a third party. If we were a democratic republic, we would see similar percentages of support for such ideas among the representatives. Gerrymandering, super pacs, and our voting system makes it that we are not a democratic republic, but a different kind of republic. I would argue we are a plutocratic republic, but that's a discussion for another time.

The point is, it's not indicative of a democratic republic to allow gerrymandering, as I pointed out in the previous round it prevents people from being represented.

My opponent brings up gerrymandering in order to discriminate against minorities, and "minorities were aloud to vote for who they wanted to despite the redrawing of the political borders; they don"t have less of an opportunity." However, minorities are not truly represented under gerrymandering since it undermines their representation. If minorities make up 30% of a state, they should also get to choose as close as possible to 30% of the state's representatives, however, in the case of the eastern district of Virginia, it was purposely made in such a way to undermine the minority vote. In Wittman V. Personhuallah et al, the supreme court ruled that the appellate had no case to bring it up to the supreme court, and essentially made it that the lower court's decision to rule the racial gerrymandering unconstitutional stands[1]. This is but one of the many cases where courts have ruled racial gerrymandering unconstitutional, and not only that, but as I pointed out before, political gerrymandering is also now being looked at and a court ruled it unconstitutional as I pointed out in my previous round.

The courts are the ones to decide whether gerrymandering is unconstitutional, and my opponent claims gerrymandering is not. My opponent does not have any authority to claim it unconstitutional or constitutional, and has failed to provide instances where the court has ruled gerrymandering constitutional. From what I have found, the courts have only ruled so far about racial gerrymandering, except for the federal court for Wisconsin that I pointed out above. Shaw v Reno was a major supreme court case in which it was ruled that racial gerrymandering is to be placed under strict scrutiny from the 14th amendment. [2] However this is not as relevant since this debate is mostly about political gerrymandering.

Sources:
[1] https://www.supremecourt.gov...
[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu...
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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