I was disgusted to see in the Washington Post ("Wonkblog" 2014-06-03) the myth yet again mindlessly repeated that the Voting Rights Act (full text) "requires the creation of majority-minority districts." Further, it called that a "high minded" attempt to help said minorities.
Actually: There is not one word in the VRA that requires that. "Majority minority districts" are not even mentioned in the VRA, much less "required"!
First of all, majority-minority districts usually hurt, not help, minorities. by packing the Blacks into a single district, minimizing their voting effect.
"Packing" and "cracking" are the two main ideas used by gerrymanderers to deprive you of your vote. Here's a 4-minute video about that.
Indeed, the very same blog in the very same Washington Post (but at a different date, 2013-06-25) reported that "Political scientists Charles Cameron, Sharyn O'Halloran and David Epstein... found that each additional majority-minority district increases the number of conservative-held seats by two" i.e. does hurt blacks (since Blacks as of year 2013 vote 90% Democrat, i.e. not "conservative").
There is something to be said for having the author of this blog read earlier editions.
Majority-minority districts can also help minorities. It depends on the situation. It just appears to be the case, as of year 2013, that on average they hurt them more than they help.
What about the supreme court?
On 13 June 1996, the Supreme Court in redistricting cases from Texas and North Carolina ruled that four majority-minority districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. In its 5-4 decisions, the Court affirmed its earlier decisions in redistricting cases that strict scrutiny is triggered [as in Shaw v. Reno (Shaw I)] when the shape of the district is "so extremely irregular on its face that it rationally can be viewed only as an effort to segregate the races without regard for traditional redistricting principles" or (as in Miller v. Johnson) when race is the "dominant and controlling rationale subordinating traditional race-neutral principles." Applying the standard of strict scrutiny in these Texas and North Carolina cases, the Court found that the districts were not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest and thus violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
That was the opening paragraph of the description of Bush v. Vera (case number 94-805) in the Spring/Summer 1998 Civil Rights Monitor which also mentions previous cases e.g. Miller v. Johnson 1995, which also had thrown majority-minority districts in the garbage.
Evidently, the supreme court failed to appreciate the Washington Post's claim that majority-minority districts were "required." On the contrary, in these cases it thought they were "illegal." And furthermore, the very idea of intentionally creating majority-minority districts with racialness as the "dominant purpose" was ruled out by the Supreme Court. Which is exactly the opposite of what the Washington Post 2014 wonkblog had implied.
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