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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday he agrees with recent comments from the head of House Democrats‘ re-election arm that blue states should participate in gerrymandering as long as it remains legal and Republicans are doing it too.
“We’d do absolutely nonpartisan redistricting in every state in the country,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC this week. “We shouldn’t do it just where Democrats are strong, though. We should do it where Republicans are strong.”
Maloney added: “If you’re asking us to unilaterally disarm… I’m a guy that wants to bring a gun to a gunfight, yeah, you bet.”
When asked about those comments, Hoyer, D-Md., touted Democrats’ election bill H.R. 1, “which said we ought to have fair redistricting.” But, he told reporters, “if that’s not gonna happen… I think Sean Patrick Maloney is correct that states are not just going to be put in a position that there’s unfair competition.”
Hoyer, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, participated in the call with reporters remotely from his home.
The comment came as the new congressional map in New York is under fire for its narrow, snake-like districts and heavy partisan lean in favor of Democrats. This follows criticism aimed at Democrats in Maryland and Illinois for their own partisan gerrymanders, and GOP gerrymanders in states like Texas – which is being sued by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Gerrymandering – named for former Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry – is when state legislatures draw congressional districts aimed at helping certain parties or politicians win elections. It is most relevant after the Census every 10 years, when states go through a redistricting process to reflect their changed populations.
Gerry was the governor of Massachusetts after the 1810 Census when he signed a bill drawing what are considered the gerrymandered congressional districts.
In recent years, lawsuits over gerrymandered districts have even made their way up to the Supreme Court, as some voters and politicians argue they are being unfairly discriminated against.
But the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that partisan gerrymandering cannot be ruled on by federal courts because it’s a political question outside their purview.
That largely leaves questions of gerrymandering up to state politicians and courts – although the DOJ is currently suing Texas under the theory that its redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act because it limits representation for racial minorities.