Congressman Lowenthal Leads Bipartisan Amicus Brief To Supreme Court Calling For End to Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering

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Washington, D.C., September 6, 2017 | comments

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)—along with a bipartisan coalition of 33 current and former Members of Congress—submitted an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court late Monday night in a pending case before the High Court that could stop the undemocratic partisan gerrymandering of political districts.

“Extreme partisan gerrymandering harms our political system, and harms the functioning of the House in particular,” wrote the Members in the brief. “Extreme partisan gerrymandering is undemocratic, and cannot be reconciled with the Framers’ idea of a House of Representatives that would be directly accountable to the People through competitive and broad-based elections. Excessive partisan gerrymandering makes it more difficult for Members to do the one job voters expect above all: delivering results for their constituents.”

The case before the Court, Gill v. Whitford, involves a group of Wisconsin voters who in 2015 challenged the Wisconsin state legislature’s 2011 redistricting map in federal court as an excessively partisan gerrymander barred by the Constitution. A lower court ruling last year found the map violated both the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedom of association. This fall, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the appeal to the lower court ruling.

“Voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “Voters should be guaranteed choices at the ballot box, not treated like political pawns to keep entrenched power entrenched.”

Congressman Lowenthal praised the bipartisan spirit of the coalition signing the brief, which included eight current Republican House Members, eight former Republican Members, and 18 current Democratic Members. 

“I think that the bipartisan nature of the amicus brief took great courage, particularly with the Republicans, since they are currently in the majority,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “This bipartisan support shows that we agree that excessive partisanship is putting a barrier between Members of Congress and their constituents, as well as contributing to the gridlock we see in Washington, D.C. It is time to bring some fairness back to the system.” 

In the brief, the Members point out that the Supreme Court explained in 2015: “[T]he core principle of republican government [is] that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.” When legislators’ draw districts that ignore traditional criteria such as representational fairness, natural geography, and cohesive communities of interest, in favor of pure partisan gain, the brief explains, that “core principle” is violated.

To read the full brief, click here.

The full list of signers to the amicus brief:  

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.)
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)
Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.)
Fmr. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.)
Fmr. Rep. Rod Chandler (R-Wash.)
Fmr. Rep. William Clinger (R-Penn.)
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.)
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.)
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D. Az.)
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
Fmr. Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Cal.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)
Fmr. Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.)
Fmr. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.)
Fmr. Rep. and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.)
Fmr. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.)
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