Reps Lowenthal and Fitzpatrick Reintroduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling on House to Remove Gerrymandering from Congressional Redistricting
Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) today reintroduced a bipartisan House of Representatives resolution calling on the House to commit to the removal of political gerrymandering from congressional redistricting and to improve public confidence in our electoral process.
Congressional redistricting is too often subject to partisan politics, often drawn behind closed doors to protect incumbent seats by whatever party holds a statewide majority. This results in gerrymandering--where districts are drawn in ridiculous shapes and cover vast areas to obtain a desired combination of voters to ensure a certain party's candidates have the electoral advantage. Many states, led by Arizona and California, have sought to reduce the impacts of gerrymandering by adopting independent redistricting commissions.
In 2018, four more states took steps to limit partisan influence in the redistricting process. Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, and Utah all created commissions to either act as a check, or even act as the primary body in drawing congressional districts."Gerrymandering is simply unfair, undemocratic, and unconstitutional," Congressman Lowenthal said. "It has come to represent corruption and greed in our system and restoring the voter's faith in our government must begin with the elimination of gerrymandering once and for all. For our democracy to function it must be accountable to the voters and that can only happen if the voice of the voters counts on election day. There can be no more backroom deals, no more politicians choosing their voters."
The resolution declares that it is "…the sense of the House of Representatives that congressional redistricting should be reformed to remove political gerrymandering." The resolution points out that gerrymandering leads to decreased electoral competition, diminishment of representation, a decrease in the faith and trust of Americans in congressional elections and is generally harmful to our democracy.
"Partisan gerrymandering has exacerbated electoral complacency that causes lawmakers to focus on accumulating power rather than serving constituents and contributed to the growing divide of partisanship that grinds the gears of government to a halt," said Congressman Fitzpatrick, a former FBI anti-corruption special agent. "The American people need fewer politicians and more independent voices focused on serving. Redistricting reform is a crucial, bipartisan step to ensuring our government remains one of, by and for the people – not just political insiders."
Click here to read the entire resolution.
Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate the times, places, and manner of congressional elections – thus, the authority to regulate state redistricting as it applies to congressional districts.
Congressmen Lowenthal and Fitzpatrick have led several efforts to curb partisan gerrymandering. In September 2017, they joined with colleagues in sending a bipartisan Member of Congress amicus brief in to the Supreme Court for Gill v. Whitford, which challenged the Wisconsin state legislature's 2011 redistricting map in federal court as an excessively partisan gerrymander barred by the Constitution. Congressmen Lowenthal and Fitzpatrick have also championed independent redistricting commissions, as practiced in states like Arizona and California, as a democratic, fair solution to address the issue of partisan gerrymandering.
"As technology and big data becomes more sophisticated, so does gerrymandering – to the detriment of the voters and our democracy," Congressman Lowenthal said. "If we do not take steps to end this, the next round of redistricting, after the 2020 census, could result in the worst political maps this country has ever experienced."
Congressman Lowenthal has been a longtime champion of redistricting reform and fought to end the practice of gerrymandering. The first bill he introduced in Congress, H.R.2978, the "Let the People Draw the Lines Act," required states to implement independent redistricting commissions to end gerrymandering of Congressional districts and give citizens more direct control over the redistricting process.
In 2015, Congressman Lowenthal lead the bipartisan Member of Congress amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the right of citizens to establish independent redistricting commissions in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
In addition to leading the bipartisan Member of Congress amicus brief to the Supreme Court for Gill v. Whitford, he joined with colleagues in sending a bipartisan Member of Congress amicus brief in Benisek v. Lamone regarding extreme partisan gerrymandering in Maryland.