The overthrow of Roe v. Wade sheds light on the gerrymandering common in US legislation – National

In overturning half a century of nationwide legal protections for abortion, the US Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade had been wrongly ruled and that it was time “to return the issue of abortion to the popularly elected representatives” in the states.

Whether these elected officials are truly representative of the people is a matter of debate, thanks to another Supreme Court decision that has allowed control of state legislatures to be skewed left or right.

In June 2019, three years before his fateful abortion ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that he had no role in curbing partisan maneuvers in which Republicans or Democrats manipulate constituency boundaries to give their candidates an advantage.

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The result is that many legislatures are more partisan than the state population as a whole. Gerrymandering flourished again as politicians used 2020 census data to redefine districts that could benefit their party for both this year’s election and the next decade.

In some swing states with Republican-led legislatures like Michigan and Wisconsin, “gerrymandering is arguably the biggest reason abortion is likely illegal,” said Chris Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University who analyzes data on redistribution.

In the meantime, “in states where the Democrats have messed around, it will likely help make abortion laws more liberal than people would like,” he added.

A majority of Americans support access to abortion in general, although many say there should be some restrictions, according to opinion polls.

States have sometimes been viewed as laboratories for democracy—institutions most closely related to people, where public policies are tested, take root, and potentially spread.

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Judge Samuel Alito wrote for the Supreme Court majority in his June 24 abortion decision that 30 states had banned abortion when the Roe v. Wade “shortcut the democratic process” in 1973, usurping legislatures and pushing abortion rights nationwide.

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“Our decision returns the issue of abortion to these legislatures and allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to influence the legislative process by influencing public opinion, influencing legislators, voting and running for office,” Alito wrote.

Abortion is already an issue in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial and general elections. A recent Wisconsin poll found that the majority supports legal abortion in most or all cases. But a fight is brewing over an 1849 state statute – which was unenforceable until Roe v. Wade – which bans abortion except to save the woman’s life.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is supporting a court action to overturn the law, which was passed just a year after Wisconsin gained statehood. He also called a special legislative session in June to overturn it. But the Republican-led Convention and Senate adjourned in seconds without doing anything.

Wisconsin’s legislature has had one of the strongest Republican advantages in the country over the past decade, and is expected to continue doing so under new districts for the 2022 election bias, according to analysis by PlanScore, a nonprofit organization that uses election data to assess the partisan of the legislative districts.

“Wisconsin democracy is skewed because of these maps,” said Greta Neubauer, chair of the Minority Assembly.

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In 2018, Democrats won every major state office, including governor and attorney general, races in which no gerrymandering is involved. But they have been unable to overcome the heavily rigged state legislative districts since Republicans gained control of the statehouse in the 2010 midterm elections.

“If we had a truly democratic system in Wisconsin, we would be in a different situation,” she said. “We would overturn this criminal abortion ban now”

Republican Rep. Donna Rozar, a former heart nurse who supports abortion restrictions, said gerrymandering shouldn’t stop political parties from fielding good candidates to represent their districts. She expects a heated debate on abortion to continue during the election campaign into the 2023 legislative period.

“This is an issue that’s so important that it’s coming back to states because each state can then elect people who represent its values,” Rosar said.

The 2010 midterms, two years after the election of former President Barack Obama, were a pivotal point for scrutiny of statehouses across the country. In that election, Democrats fully controlled 27 state legislatures and Republicans 14, with the remainder split. But sweeping GOP victories have left the party responsible for redistribution of districts in many states. By 2015, after two elections under the new maps, Republicans fully controlled 30 parliaments and Democrats only 11.

That Republican legislative advantage largely persisted through the 2020 election, even in states otherwise tightly split between Democrats and Republicans, such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

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In New Mexico, it is Republicans who claim that the Democrat-led Legislature has outdone many voters on abortion policy. The districts of the New Mexico House of Representatives and Senate have enjoyed a sizeable pro-Democracy lead over the past decade, which PlanScore data showed was even more pronounced after the districts were redrawn based on the 2020 census.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last year signed legislation repealing a dormant 1969 law that banned most abortions. After Roe v. Wade was overruled, she signed an executive order making New Mexico a safe haven for abortion seekers. Unlike most states, New Mexico has no restrictions on late-term abortions.

“I don’t think the majority of New Mexicos support abortion policy at this point,” Republican Senator Gay Kernan said. “New Mexico is basically the late-stage abortion capital of the United States.”

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti has proposed banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except for cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger. But the proposed legislation has been described as dead by Linda Lopez, the Democratic state’s Senate whip.

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Michigan could deliver one of the biggest tests of representative government in the nation’s new abortion fight.

Republicans pulled legislative districts in Michigan after the 2010 census, giving their party such a significant advantage that it may have helped the GOP retain control of the tightly divided House, according to an Associated Press analysis. As in Wisconsin, Democrats in Michigan won the governor’s race and all other major statewide offices in 2018, but failed to overcome pro-Republican-leaning legislative districts.

The dynamic has changed for this year’s election. According to PlanScore data, the GOP’s lead was cut in half under new legislative districts drawn by a voter-approved Citizen Redistribution Commission. That could improve Democrats’ chances of winning a chamber and influencing abortion policy.

Michigan’s governor’s Republican challengers generally support a 1931 law, temporarily shelved by a judge, that bans abortions unless a woman’s health is at risk. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is running for re-election, wants to repeal the law.

Republican Rep. Steve Carra said lawmakers want to replace it with “something that would be enforceable in the 21st century.”

“It’s more important to protect life than a woman’s right to choose to take that life,” said Carra, who leads a coalition of 321 lawmakers from 35 states that has asked the Supreme Court to review abortion policy returned to the States.

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Proponents of abortion rights, unsure of their legislative prospects, are collecting signatures for a ballot initiative in November that would create a state constitutional law on abortion, allowing its regulation only “on the basis of viability of the fetus.”

“This is the best chance we have to ensure access to abortion,” said Democratic state representative Laurie Pohutsky. “I think when this gets put in the hands of voters, they’re going to want this voting action to succeed.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press The overthrow of Roe v. Wade sheds light on the gerrymandering common in US legislation – National


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