Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)– along with a bipartisan coalition of 35 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, according to the congressmember’s office.
“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,” 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 10 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,” 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.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also joined the coalition of 18 state attorneys general in filing the amicus brief.
“Depriving voters of their equal and fair opportunity to participate in our elections is un-American and wrong,” Becerra said. “I am joining my fellow attorneys general in filing this amicus brief to protect voters and ensure their voices are heard. A vote is a voice. And in America, every voice should have the opportunity to be equally heard. Drawing biased voting districts to maintain political control discourages voters from engaging in our political processes.”
Becerra joins the attorney general of Oregon together with the attorneys general of Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
The brief points out what 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, Lowenthal said.
The full list of congressional signers to the amicus brief is as follows:
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. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)
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. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
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.)
Sources: Lowenthal’s office, Becerra’s office