They were drawn with permissible racial bias

An item from January 25 2017 which I don’t recall seeing at the time:

While U.S. citizens could once claim to be part of the 9% of people in the world governed by a “full democracy,” they are now part of the near 45% who live in a “flawed democracy.”

That’s according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which downgraded the U.S. in their 2016 Democracy Index published Wednesday. The move puts the U.S. in the same category as Poland, Mongolia, and Italy.

To arrive at this conclusion, the paper analyzed over 200 countries and considered factors like political culture and political participation.

“Popular trust in government, elected representatives and political parties has fallen to extremely low levels in the U.S.,” the paper’s authors wrote. “This has been a long-term trend and one that preceded the election of [Donald] Trump as U.S. president in November 2016.”

And as for voter participation…the Supreme Court just took another huge stride in the direction of suppressing that:

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a bitterly divided 5–4 decision upholding all but one of Texas’ gerrymandered districts, ruling they were not drawn with impermissible racial bias. Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion reverses a lower court’s conclusion that Texas gerrymandered both congressional and state legislative districts in order to curb the power of minority voters. The ruling is a brutal blow to civil rights advocates, who amassed a vast record of evidence that Texas mapmakers diluted the votes of Hispanic residents.

What may be most remarkable about Monday’s decision in Abbott v. Perez, however, is Justice Neil Gorsuch’s effort to position himself as a fierce opponent of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court already gutted a central provision of the VRA in 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder. Now, in Perez, Gorsuch has joined Justice Clarence Thomas’ crusade to hobble the law even further by holding that it does not prohibit racial gerrymandering. Were the court to adopt Gorsuch’s interpretation, the VRA could never again be used to stop racist mapmakers from diluting minority votes.

The VRA was designed to enforce the 15th Amendment’s bar on racial voter suppression in several ways. Its most effective tool allowed the federal government to block suspect voting laws in states with long histories of racial discrimination—but SCOTUS disabled this provision in Shelby County. Luckily, a different part of the VRA, Section 2, forbids any “standard, practice, or procedure” that “results in the denial or abridgement” of the right to vote “on account of race or color.”

For decades, the Supreme Court has held that Section 2 outlaws gerrymanders that dilute the votes of minority citizens.

Now thanks to Mitch McConnell and the electoral college (already a bit of “flawed democracy”), that’s over.

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