What’s the appropriate response to the growing push to put citizen commissions in charge of how state and congressional districts are drawn? Four laughing emojis, according to the leading GOP redistricting group.
The National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT) has been fairly shy about publicly airing their own views since they were founded in 2017 in response to former attorney general Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC). They’ve made it clear that they think partisan state lawmakers should retain control over how maps get drawn, but they haven’t explicitly said what’s wrong with independent commissions taking over that task.
In a Thursday twitter spat, NDRC communications director Patrick Rodenbush said that his group backed “independent, citizen led commissions” like the one that Republicans fought to keep off the 2018 ballot in Michigan. (The measure ultimately passed with 61 percent of the vote).
These commissions are “easily and often gamed by Democrats to achieve their partisan ends while giving them plausible deniability,” the NRRT shot back.
"Independent, citizen led commissions" i.e. redistricting commissions easily and often gamed by Democrats to achieve their partisan ends while giving them plausible deniability. https://t.co/SzLaYMBzUh
— NRRT (@TheNRRT) April 26, 2019
As courts from Wisconsin to Maryland have struck down maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders, the push to take this power out of lawmakers’ hands has gathered force. Several conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices recently pointed to this reform movement as proof that there is no need for them to intervene to impose restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymandering.
But in practice, Republican lawmakers have sought to block or undermine the independent or bipartisan commissions cropping up in states like Missouri and Michigan.