Wednesday, June 09, 2004Praise the lord, a good decision from the Supreme Court! Or in this case, a non-decision. The Court has refused to consider an appeal by Colorado Republicans to a rejection of their redistricting plan. It would have been better if the Court had accepted the case and then explicitly rejected mid-decade redistricting, but I'll take what I can get. Now we'll have to see what they do with the Texas map.
Now it is probably true that the redistricting is not technically unconstitutional. And in the 19th century state legislatures routinely re-drew the lines when a new party took power, whether it was a year ending in "2" or not. But this was also a time in which congressional districts were not drawn according to the one-man, one-vote standard either. Do we really want to return to that? Of course not. The Supreme Court finally decided that such a practice was inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution. This is why we call the Constitution a living document- we can always reconsider what we once thought acceptable.
This new political ploy is among the most dangerous the Republicans have employed recently. Together with the recall of Gray Davis and the 2000 Florida election fiasco, the right is violating the norms of democratic competition by expanding the scope of conflict. In other words, they are not just playing the game, but trying to change the rules to their advantage while it is being played. Nothing is more threatening to the stability of of a republic. Both sides have to accept that the rules and traditions are binding, whether they are written in the formal constitution or not. Otherwise, the intensity of the fighting gradually escalates into actual fighting, as well as reducing faith in the political process by the citizenry.