David Rohde discusses gerrymandering in PBS NewsHour interview

Monday, September 26, 2016

DAVID ROHDE, DUKE UNIVERSITY: 2010 was a real benchmark because it produced so many states in which the Republicans completely controlled the process.

JEFF GREENFIELD: David Rohde is a political scientist at Duke University in North Carolina, one of the states where Republicans won control of the state legislature.

DAVID ROHDE: Gerrymandering has a larger impact on bigger states. That is, the more the population, the more ways you can divide it up, the more seats you have to distribute. So the Republicans were fortunate enough to gain control of a number of large states in 2010 where they had not controlled redistricting before.

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JEFF GREENFIELD: But the Supreme Court has warned against too much partisanship. In a 2004 concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “partisan gerrymanders… are incompatible with democratic principles.”

DAVID ROHDE: The Supreme Court has said that this is a political question and that legislatures are allowed, expected to try to extract advantage, but justices have also said- some justices disagreed with that, but other justices say, “yes, that’s true, but you can go too far.”

JEFF GREENFIELD: That’s Kennedy.

DAVID ROHDE: That was Kennedy, among others. So the question is, “What’s too far? It’s sort of Potter Stewart’s old obscenity definition: “I’ll know it when I see it.”