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Congressman Jamie Raskin

Representing the 8th District of Maryland

Raskin Joins Bipartisan Amicus Brief to Supreme Court Calling for End to Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering

September 6, 2017
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)—along with a bipartisan coalition of 34 current and former Members of Congress—submitted an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court late Monday night in a pending case before the High Court that could stop the undemocratic partisan gerrymandering of political districts.

“Extreme partisan gerrymandering harms our political system, and harms the functioning of the House in particular,” wrote the Members in the brief. “Extreme partisan gerrymandering is undemocratic, and cannot be reconciled with the Framers’ idea of a House of Representatives that would be directly accountable to the People through competitive and broad-based elections. Partisan gerrymandering makes it more difficult for Members to do the one job voters expect above all: delivering results for their constituents.”

The case before the Court, Gill v. Whitford, involves a group of Wisconsin voters who in 2015 challenged the Wisconsin state legislature’s 2011 redistricting map in federal court as an excessively partisan gerrymander barred by the Constitution. A lower court ruling last year found the map violated both the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedom of association. This fall, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the appeal to the lower court ruling.

"American democracy faces a crisis with gerrymandering, which empowers political minorities to redistrict political majorities into near-oblivion,” said Congressman Jamie Raskin, a professor of constitutional law. “The Supreme Court needs to intervene, as it did in the one-person, one-vote cases and in the so-called ‘racial gerrymander’ cases, to declare that every vote must be treated equally and the voices of communities cannot be canceled out for strategic partisan reasons.  We need the Court to get involved because the states are involved in a race to the bottom and there is no end in sight.” 

“I think that the bipartisan nature of the amicus brief took great courage, particularly with the Republicans, since they are currently in the majority,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “This bipartisan support shows that we agree—members of both parties—that excessive partisanship is putting a barrier between Members of Congress and their constituents, as well as contributing to the gridlock we see in Washington, D.C. It is time to bring some fairness back to the system.”

In the brief, the Members point out that the Supreme Court explained in 2015: “[T]he core principle of republican government [is] that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.” When legislators’ draw districts that ignore traditional criteria such as representational fairness, natural geography, and cohesive communities of interest, in favor of pure partisan gain, the brief explains, that “core principle” is violated.

To read the full brief, click here.

The full list of signers to the amicus brief:  

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.)
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)
Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.)
Fmr. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) 
Fmr. Rep. Rod Chandler (R-Wash.) 
Fmr. Rep. William Clinger (R-Penn.)
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) 
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.)
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.)
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D. Az.)
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
Fmr. Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.)
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Cal.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)
Fmr. Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.)
Fmr. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.)
Fmr. Rep. and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.)
Fmr. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.)

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Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.