cloudy
Friday August 28th, 2015 5:36AM

Fla. judge rules against GOP-controlled state legislature in redistricting issue

By The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Democrats have long claimed that Republicans abused their legislative powers to elect a disproportionate number of U.S. House members. Now a Florida court is lending credence to their complaint.<br /> <br /> The full impact of the Florida ruling - plus a similar lawsuit pending in North Carolina - won't be known for some while. For now, at least, they shine light on the fiercely partisan practice of gerrymandering, in which state officials draw congressional districts to help their party.<br /> <br /> Republicans and Democrats have engaged in gerrymandering for decades. Republicans refined the practice in 2011, a year after they won control of numerous state governments preparing to redraw congressional maps based on the 2010 census. It's one reason Republicans hold a solid House majority even though Americans cast 1.4 million more votes for Democratic House candidates than for GOP House candidates in 2012.<br /> <br /> Florida is a prime example of Democrats' frustration. President Barack Obama carried the state twice, but Florida's U.S. House delegation has 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.<br /> <br /> A Florida judge has ruled that the GOP-controlled state legislature illegally drew congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party, and ordered them redrawn. The legislature is expected to appeal the ruling, and this fall's elections are unlikely to be affected.<br /> <br /> Republicans haven't controlled the White House or U.S. Senate for more than five years. Yet their House majority - now 234 to 199 - looks safe this fall. Redistricting episodes in Florida and North Carolina help explain why.<br /> <br /> Republicans hold nine of North Carolina's 13 U.S. House seats, and they have solid prospects to make it 10. Their nominee is favored to win a district, which Obama lost by 19 percentage points, being vacated by centrist Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre.<br /> <br /> In recent statewide elections, North Carolina has been about as evenly divided as a state can be. Obama narrowly won it once, and lost it once. Voters replaced a Democratic governor with a Republican in 2012. Each party has one U.S. senator, and this fall's re-election bid by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is likely to be extremely close.<br /> <br /> The House delegation makeup, by contrast, seems more fitting for a reliably Republican state, like Georgia perhaps.<br /> <br /> The arrangement lacks "elemental fairness," said state Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue, moments after attacking Republican school-spending cuts at a Raleigh news conference. The nation's founders, Blue said, could not have envisioned congressional representation falling so out of balance with a state's overall political sentiment.<br /> <br /> Several other states have sent more Republicans to Congress than their presidential voting patterns would suggest. Obama carried Ohio twice, but Republicans control its U.S. House delegation 12-4. Pennsylvania hasn't backed a GOP presidential nominee since 1988, but it has 13 House Republicans and five Democrats.<br /> <br /> The House makeup is similar in other states that Obama won twice, including Virginia (8-3 Republican), Michigan (9-5 Republican) and Wisconsin (5-3 Republican).<br /> <br /> The only state trending the other way is Arizona. Obama lost it twice, yet it has five House Democrats and four Republicans.<br /> <br /> A chief reason for the imbalance is the often politicized state-by-state practice of redrawing the House's 435 districts after each once-a-decade Census. Districts are apportioned by population, with each state getting at least one House member.<br /> <br /> Americans' mobility patterns also helped, as millions of liberals continue to move to urban areas. This so-called "self-gerrymandering" makes it easier for Republican mapmakers to pack as many Democratic voters as possible into a handful of districts. That helps Republicans win a larger number of districts by smaller but still-safe margins.<br /> <br /> In North Carolina, Republican officials drew three House districts that twisted and snaked to include as many black neighborhoods, and other likely Democratic areas, as possible. In the 2012 elections, these three districts recorded overwhelming Democratic majorities. Obama lost the other 10 districts by margins ranging from 13 to 23 percentage points.<br /> <br /> Republicans won their 9-4 U.S. House edge even as North Carolinians cast more votes for Democratic House candidates overall.<br /> <br /> Democrats are asking the state Supreme Court to rule the redistricting unconstitutional. Black voters were packed so densely into three districts, they contend, that their overall political clout was unduly diminished.<br /> <br /> "We've got a red government imposed on a purple state," said Ferrel Guillory, a University of North Carolina professor who advised the plaintiffs.<br /> <br /> Republicans defend the map, noting that they followed state laws enacted when Democrats controlled the government. "We would expect our maps to be vindicated completely," GOP state Sen. Bob Rucho said at the time.<br /> <br /> David Rouzer, who had been an aide to Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, came within 654 votes of ousting McIntyre in 2012 in the 7th District, which includes several southeastern counties. Now that McIntyre is retiring, Rouzer is favored to win.<br /> <br /> Relaxing in a Raleigh coffee shop before a recent fundraiser, Rouzer said McIntyre had found it harder and harder to persuade anti-Obama voters to support him. "A lot of people feel like the country is in big trouble," Rouzer said, citing the federal deficit, unemployment and other concerns.<br /> <br /> Democratic Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who has spent 25 years in Congress, sees political chicanery in North Carolina's U.S. House map.<br /> <br /> "It's the most extreme gerrymandering, on a purely partisan basis, I think we've ever seen," Price said.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 7 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 7 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 7 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 7 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 7 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 7 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 7 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 7 months ago )
Politics
Democratic financial woes threaten party-building before presidential election year
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Democratic National Committee barely has more cash than it does IOUs, and it is being outraised month after month by its Republican competitor.Its $24 million debt from the 2012...
6:11PM ( 11 hours ago )
Health official: States should post local vaccination info
How many kids are vaccinated at your child's school? Federal health officials think you should be able to easily find out.
By The Associated Press
4:55PM ( 12 hours ago )
US stocks end sharply higher; Dow up 369
U.S. stocks are closing sharply higher after China's main stock index logged its biggest gain in eight weeks. A report also showed that the U.S. economy expanded at a much faster pace than previously estimated.
By The Associated Press
4:33PM ( 13 hours ago )
Settlement reached in lawsuit over decade-old Gulf oil leak
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Environmental groups and a New Orleans company that failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over the slow-motion s...
12:32PM ( 17 hours ago )
The Latest: Kentucky clerk again refuses to grant license
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — The latest in the refusal of a Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (all times local):___12 p.m.A Kentucky county clerk temporarily closed her offi...
12:07PM ( 17 hours ago )