In his Oct. 1 op-ed, “Avoiding the political thicket,” George F. Will explained why the Supreme Court has refrained from trying to establish rules on gerrymandering. His arguments, though, did not address what has long been problematic and is now increasingly obvious and divisive.
In North Carolina, to take one example, party affiliation is just about evenly split between Republican and Democratic, and yet 80 percent of the people elected to represent that population in Congress are Republicans.
Mr. Will ignored that gerrymandering in states such as North Carolina leaves a disproportionate percentage of the population severely underrepresented — and not just along racial lines. It was wrong in the past, and it is wrong now.
Gerrymandering may be a political “thicket,” but the Supreme Court’s hesitancy to tackle the weightier problem of legislation without fair representation will fast lead the nation into political quicksand.
Joe Moran, Durham, N.C.
George F. Will cautioned the Supreme Court against fashioning a new standard for redrawing congressional districts. His treatment erred in two ways. He assumed that those calling for change have partisan motives. But in my blue state (Maryland), Democrats are pushing for reform alongside Republicans — as vigorously as the Wisconsin plaintiffs are. Solid-blue, solid-red districts ensure “tenure for life” in Congress. They make party primaries critical and general elections meaningless. All voters suffer.
Also, he called the proposed standard — an efficiency gap greater than 7 percent — a “concocted” metric “plucked from the ether.” To act, the court must concoct some metric. When pushed into the abortion-wars thicket, it “plucked” a third-trimester standard. Advances in reproductive technology drove court action there. Here, the advance is in data processing, which now enables the winning side to create single-party districts with hairline precision.
A legislative response is blocked by incumbents’ self-interest. The court must halt our political system’s self-destructive slide toward far-right and far-left warring camps. Mr. Will noted that this practice has been around since 1788. If longevity of past practice always barred the doorway to the court, what a hobbled, frozen, dysfunctional society would be ours today.
Bruce L. Reynolds, Potomac