Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week in Redistricting 3/11

The big news this week is that Justin Morneau played baseball for the first time since July 7th, going 1-2 with a double in a spring training game.

There was some redistricting news as well.

  • The Census Bureau is taking it's sweet time to release the detailed Minnesota population numbers, but the Strib reports that those numbers will finally come next week.

  • A slew of big name former politico's, including Walter Mondale, have been making a push for an independent redistricting commission to take over the line drawing authority from the legislature. The idea is to create a panel of retired judges to draw the lines, thereby removing politics from the process, because, as we all know, judges don't have a political bone in their body and are always super objective and ultra knowledgeable about geography and regional communities.

    Under the proposal, each of the four legislative leaders in the House and Senate would select one member of the commission. Those four would then pick the fifth member. No prospective judge could have received party endorsement for a political position.

    If lawmakers reject their first map, the judges could draw second and third maps. Only after the Legislature turns down three maps could lawmakers draw new district lines on their own.

    So what's not to like about such an idea? Well, if you're Republican Party of Minnesota Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb, everything:

    The Minnesota Constitution clearly lays out a fair process and procedure for redistricting, and we are not interested in any process that takes away the constitutional responsibility of the Legislature and the courts. Elected representatives should be involved in the redistricting process, not an unelected panel of retired political appointees.

    It's not often that I will say this, but I agree with Brodkorb. As fraught with conflict of interest as having politicians draw the lines of their own districts is, often times the representative of a district knows more about where the lines should be drawn than some random judge or panel of judges.

    That's not to say that there isn't a redistricting commission approach that can work, I'm just not a huge fan of the retired judges model. Such a plan assumes that judges, for whatever reason, are the best qualified for such an assignment, which they are not. Additionally having the legislative leaders of the two parties select the judges to be on the panel only serves to inject politics right back into the equation.

    Such a commission, if one were to be formed, should certainly have citizen representatives as well as elected officials as it's members. If judges must be included than so be it, but a panel made up exclusively of judges is not very representative of the state as a whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment