(Note that the new Seventh District map is actually more mangled than the rotting deer carcass in the photo above. I considered maneuvering the bones and sinew around to make a better match, but stopped short of actually sticking my hands into the maggot-infested carrion. Our legislators obviously have no such qualms.)
Shockingly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court acted with morals and common sense in throwing out the freshly gerrymandered state Senate and House districts in Pennsylvania. Districts are supposed to be contiguous, of equal population and not divide up towns or municipalities whenever possible. However, lawmakers generally ignore all the rules except the equal population one and draw districts most likely to protect incumbents.
Usually, they get away with it. But not this time. PA Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille unrolled 87 pages of brimstone condemning the new state senate and house districts. As he pointed out, our very state Constitution demands that districts should “embrace contiguity, compactness and the integrity of political subdivisions, no less than the command to creative legislative districts as nearly equal in population as ‘practicable.’”
Yet even as computer models give us new tools to draw better districts, they get worse and worse. Why? Because they’re drawn by partisan hacks with no concern other making their ride to reelection as easy as possible. Letting legislators create the districts that they run for election in is one of the stupidest, more corruptive ideas to ever hit democracy.
Remember, lawmakers promised an open, fair and transparent redistricting process last spring with ample public input. They provided none of that, in reality drawing a bunch of unfair maps behind closed doors with no public input. The results look like they squirted diarrhea all over the state and its taxpayers, which is pretty close to the truth.
Chaos on the Way
Of course, the judge’s decision has thrown the whole state into chaos since we were supposed to have elections this year based on the new districts. Now everyone is suing everyone else and the politicians don’t know where they need to canvas. We might use the 2001 lines, we might draw new ones real quick that pass better muster, who knows! This is what democracy looks like.
Also note that Castille’s decision did nothing to change the monstrosity of our new federal house districts. They are, if anything, worse than the state maps but no one challenged them they’re all good to go, including the infamous 7th, which was called “roadkill” by a democratic spokesperson. Republicans have taken heat for the gerrymandering, but Democrats are complicit as well. They came out with their own competing proposal which is just as bad. Plus Philadelphia democratic strongman and Congressman Bob Brady signed off on the map because it removed a bunch of black people from his district, making his own reelection easier.
Some Washington Post commentators came up with other ideas to describe the shape, meant to protect incumbent Patrick Meehan:
- Disney’s Goofy dancing with one of the Transformers.
- A girl with pigtails delivering a bicycle kick to…Scotland?
- The TIE fighter district
- A grown-up rhinoceros and a baby rhinoceros being forcibly thrown off in different directions from the back of a horse.
- Laughing man who kicks a nun.
Other common comparisons for gerrymandered districts are to a Rorschach Test, slime mold and any number of sea creatures.
On closer inspection, the 7th really looks like like a Pennsylvania lawmaker having a miscarriage. Because that’s what it is. We suck.