by Sam Hieb
Charlotte Observer’s Peter St. Onge opines Republicans legal objection to the appointment of Stanford University Law School professor Nathaniel Bersily as special master to examine and possibly redraw state legislative districts alleged to be in violation of the Constitution:
Republicans don’t necessarily have a problem with Persily’s credentials, which are many, or his map-drawing chops, which are considerable. They worry about what GOP lawyer Phil Strach called “possible bias.”
They’re right about that, but maybe not for the reason they think.
…So what has Persily advocated for? As senior research director for the 2014 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, he helped craft recommendations that included expanding early voting and online registration. In a subsequent op-ed for the Washington Post, he recommended developing a nationwide data infrastructure that might address issues such as long polling lines and the failure to count provisional and absentee ballots.
All of which has a theme: People should have better access to voting, and the votes they make should not be weakened by political or legal maneuvering.
Republicans’ claim of “possible bias” are based on Persily’s comments regarding North Carolina’s two legally contested Congressional districts:
Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily by his own count drew about 10 percent of legislative districts in the country following the last census. “What the court needs to figure out,” he says, is how to give directions to jurisdictions that indicate “when they’re allowed to take race into account” and when taking race into account will “break the Constitution.”
“There is a sort of Goldilocks principle at work,” he notes, meaning the states have to get the balance “just right.”
“You have to have some sympathy for the jurisdictions here,” he adds. “On the one hand, they know they’re going to get sued no matter what they do, and yet at the same time, they know that these redistricting plans are motivated by the incumbents in order to screw their opponents.”
Admittedly Bersily does not identify who’s screwing whom, and even Peter St. Onge admits Democrats did a fair amount of screwing when they held legislative majorities. That said, No one should hold out hope that that Republicans’ claims will be given merit in court.