During a television interview about partisan politics, Republican, David Gergen, said a great divide existed between the Republican Party in the Watergate era and the one that exists today. The difference, and I paraphrase here, is that Watergate Republicans put the country before their politics and erred on the side of transparency.
His observation struck home. I remember being glued to my television during the Watergate hearings. On that occasion, Republicans and Democrats put patriotism above politics and proved to be capable of leadership.
Today, patriotism seems to have taken a back seat to politics. At stake, isn’t the well-being of the country but who wins and who loses, a game played by both parties and which explains why the public has so little faith in the Congress. (Click) The third bastion of our democratic institution is U. S. Supreme Court. After the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, it, too, seems capable of partisan politics. (Click) Nonetheless, it will be the next democratic institution to examine the question of gerrymandering. The high court will hear two cases this session.
The shadow they cast over voter districting could alter the face of our democracy. First and foremost, the public must accept their decisions as fair. Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, is likely to be the swing vote. Given his record on similar matters, predicting where he will land on gerrymandering is difficult. In 2004 he sided with the state of Pennsylvania in a dispute over its congressional map. (Vieth v. Jubelirer) In Gill v. Whitford, he pushed “a lawyer for the Republicans to concede that it would be unconstitutional for a state to pass a redistricting law explicitly written to favor one party or another.” (“Gerrymandering Finally Gets Its Day in Court,” by Peter Cory & Greg Stohr, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 22, 2018, pg. 39.)
Whatever the ruling, the Court will set precedents for a divided country. We can only hope, the nine justices, who are themselves divided, will do nothing to taint the public’s trust.
Bulletin — Since writing this post, the US Supreme court has issued a ruling on the Pennsylvania case. It will require districts be redrawn. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-refuses-to-block-pa-ruling-invalidating-congressional-mapdecision-means-2018-elections-in-the-state-will-probably-be-held-in-districts-far-more-favorable-to-democrats/2018/02/05/2d758f90-0aa3-11e8-8890-372e2047c935_story.html?utm_term=.c0b9e7d1d225