Just want to add an interesting twist to Monika’s story. It’s true that the Supreme Court ruled that Tom DeLay’s naked power grab down in Texas was fine and dandy. What’s significant is that this ruling sets a precedents for states to rewrite their district boundaries whenever they damn well please—rather than wait for the Census to come out every ten years, as used to be the tradition.
Now according to Richard Sammon, this could be a major boon for Democrats, if they want to get devious. This fall, Democrats will likely take both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature in Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York, and that means they can do what Texas did and redraw their districts, in effect shifting more and more seats in the House of Representatives into the Democratic column. They could potentially do the same in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, if they win state elections there. The only places where Republicans could potentially retaliate are Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri.
So the Democratic Party could, if they wanted to, take Kennedy’s ruling and redraw enough electoral districts to take back the House in 2008. Personally, I don’t like the idea of elections being decided by whichever party comes up with the cleverest—and most aggressive—redistricting plan, but that’s the reality right now. An ideal alternative would be for states to turn into multimember districts and elect at-large representatives for the House—which would be perfectly constitutional—so that we could junk this gerrymandering nonsense altogether, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.