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Coalition for smarter redistricting in New Jersey

January 7th, 2019, 9:47pm by Sam Wang

I’m pleased to announce that the Princeton Gerrymandering Project is joining a working group to evaluate and make recommendations for New Jersey’s legislative redistricting process. Our press release is here. (Update: our report is out! It’s here.)

Our working group follows on an unpopular proposal that would have changed the composition of the reapportionment commission and inserted a formula for compliance. PGP found that this formula would not stop partisan offenses – and even left a fairly prominent loophole.

The new working group, coordinated by Patrick Murray at Monmouth University, will write a report that will provide guiding principles for the next redistricting round in 2021. We’ll also host a series of public forums in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. One forum will take place here at Princeton!

  • Ronald Chen, Rutgers University law professor and the former New Jersey Public Advocate.
  • Brigid Callahan Harrison, professor of political science and law, Montclair State University.
  • Patrick Murray, director, Monmouth University Polling Institute.
  • Yurij Rudensky, redistricting counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
  • Samuel Wang, neuroscience professor and director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Princeton University.Ben Williams, legal analyst and project coordinator, Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Princeton University.
  • Ben Williams, Legal Analyst and Project Coordinator, Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Princeton University.

Wish us luck – and come to a public forum. We’ll announce them soon!

Tags: Princeton · Redistricting

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Pechmerle

    Rick Hasen, in a pessimistic mood, suggests that the Roberts court (consistent with Roberts’s vociferous dissent – “what chumps” – in the Arizona commission case) might in upcoming challenges to new commission systems of redistricting reverse the Arizona decision on adoption of commissions by initiative or referendum, and hold that only the legislatures have the constitutional power to conduct congressional redistricting.

    I’m not as pessimistic as Hasen. I’d like to think that Roberts will treat the Arizona decision as settled precedent despite his strong disagreement with its reasoning. But Hasen’s thinking on this makes me nervous.

    • Sam Wang

      I can’t tell if Hasen is being a pessimist or a realist. The optimistic take:

      1) In Gill v. Whitford, after forging unanimity, Roberts could take that reasoning to craft a definition of partisan gerrymandering at the level of single districts. Since the Maryland case (Benisek) victimizes Republicans, it aligns with his partisan interests. If I recall correctly, oral argument in Benisek is consistent with the idea that SCOTUS justices are susceptible to motivated reasoning in this way.

      2) In regard to commissions for Congressional redistricting, multiple states rely on that precedent: California, Arizona, and now Michigan and Colorado. It would seem to be ripe territory for stare decisis. Would Kavanaugh vote to undo a precedent set by his old mentor?

      Then again, PEC readers know that I have strong tendencies toward optimism! ;-)

    • LondonYoung

      I would not take Roberts’ “what chumps” dissent too seriously.

      This is just conservative venting over a long lost cause. Scalia used to go on about the 19th Amendment in a similar way. You see, the court today would find that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause means that women should be allowed to vote – so, asks Scalia, why did we need the 19th Amendment?

      The argument is perfectly logical and reasonable. But, at the same time, a waste of breath today. Roberts feels free to pen this in a dissent, but he would never write it in an opinion of the court.

  • LondonYoung

    Oh … and ….
    Good Luck!

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