Sunday, March 12, 2023

"Mitigate the Rural/Urban Divide" By Removing Representative Government From the Cities, Sez Member of the NCGA

One cow, one cop

The constitutional principle of "one person, one vote" was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Sims (1964) which ruled that state legislatures, unlike the U.S. Congress, "needed to have representation in both houses that was based on districts containing roughly equal populations, with redistricting as needed after censuses." Some states directly affected by that ruling had an upper house (Senate) based on per-county allotments, not on population, a set-up obviously giving unequal and therefore unfair political power to rural counties. States like that don't get liquor-by-the-drink without a big fight. 

Also in 1964, in Wesberry v. Sanders, the same Earl Warren Court declared that equality of voting — and they expressly used the term "one person, one vote" —means that "the weight and worth of the citizens' votes as nearly as is practicable must be the same," and ruled that states must also draw federal congressional districts containing roughly equal represented populations. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Conservative rural politicians have always hated that decision, and they have gotten more aggressive lately -- gerrymandering, yes, but also a culture war often egged on by preachers. Right now in countless country churches, cities are both jokes and monsters of deviance, objects to fear -- and pray for, of course! -- the dangerous liberties of the city.

But math is not on their side. Because in NC, many more persons/votes -- too damn many of them! -- live in cities that always seem to elect Democrats who fit the stereotype of "liberal" -- for just one example, allowing men to dress as women and parade around provocatively. What do you do about the constitutional math, if you also happen to hold all the power? What to propose? How about this: Test the constitutional precedent of "one person, one vote" specifically for the NC Senate, and propose we do it like the US Senate -- membership based on real estate, not population. If each state, no matter their population, can have two  senators apiece (count-em!), then why can't a state's counties also be the basis for apportionment? 

A Long Way Getting To This

A Hickory Republican, Rep. Jay Adams, appears to be serious about introducing a constitutional amendment in the General Assembly to change the way the 50 state senators are selected. He wants to "pair" together contiguous counties (whole counties, no matter their physical size or population), each 2-county district to get 1 senator -- 100 paired counties equals 50 senators. The arbitrary nature of it takes the breath away.

Adams in his very forthcoming interview with A.P. Dillon becomes seriously hilarious (and not in a good way) as he tries to explain his political science for pairing counties: “My thinking would be that we would start from the east and the west and pair counties, and then as we got to the center [of the state], we would have a little bit more of a challenge .... what county is going to be associated with Mecklenburg? And what county is going to be associated with Wake? I don’t think these adjacent counties are going to willingly attach themselves, but we’ll see.”

We'll see? Why, yes. But note the implication: Meck and Wake are seriously icky.

While Adams finds the idea of challenging a Supreme Court ruling “daunting,” he pointed to a scholarly report examining the issue published by the University of the Pacific Law Review titled “Little Federal Model: One County, One Vote.”

“It was written a year ago and it talks about the rural/urban divide and the tensions that exist between the rural areas and the urban areas, which I think is probably most pronounced right now by what’s going on in Oregon,” Adams said. “You got 63% of the state land area that’s trying to secede and attach itself to Idaho, and, interestingly, that 63% of the land area only represents 9% of their population. So, there’s growing tensions in this area.”

I'm impressed. Jay Adams read something, "a scholarly report," that challenged the legitimacy of Sims, Wesberry v. Sanders et al., probably with impressive legal footnotes. The establishment of the US Senate embedded in our Republic a wholly different but no less legitimate theory of apportionment. That's the argument.

It's wrong.


1 comment:

Red Hornet said...

The more rural and denialist NC counties should secede and join SC. That's the plan with Oregon and Idaho. All these crackpot schemes are fascist threats, coercive sadism , a spoiler minority temporarily in power who want to destroy things normal people depend on.