Via America’s Lawyer: Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to talk about a Supreme Court ruling that reserves state lawmakers the right to draw election maps. This raises huge concerns among voters, as partisan gerrymandering appears to have been given a go-ahead by the highest court in the land.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to redistrict election maps ultimately remains under the discretion of state lawmakers, that scary. This practice known as gerrymandering, has long come under the fire for its tendency to be heavily partisan influence, often disenfranchising voters in their own district. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows is here to talk about this. We’ve seen it in Florida haven’t we?

Mollye Barrows:                Oh my gosh.

Mike Papantonio:             I think, I made, I made this map. It’s almost, this is, it’s, it’s, it’s like an upside down hummingbird. You know, we got, you have districts that look like.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s exactly right. They talked about the funny names they give them.

Mike Papantonio:             So why did they give it a pass? What, why did they?

Mollye Barrows:                For the same reason that they have consistently. You know, the, the US Supreme Court has yet to find that a redistricted map is “unconstitutional,” based on essentially that they have no clear standard by which to determine if excessive gerrymandering has occurred. So while they recognize gerrymandering has occurred, when it comes to like murder for example, I know this is a strange example, but you know you have your degrees, first degree, second degree, intentional manslaughter. I mean, I think basically what they’re saying is, yeah, we know gerrymandering happened. We’re just not sure we can officially measure how bad it was. And what makes it worse than this?

Mike Papantonio:             Right. You got first degree politics, second degree politics, third degree manslaughter politics.

Mollye Barrows:                Right, right.

Mike Papantonio:             And so we’re okay with that. Look, this is a cop out…

Mollye Barrows:                Yes I agree.

Mike Papantonio:             By the Supreme Court. I mean to say, well you know, kind of looks like a duck, quacks like a duck.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But I don’t think it’s a duck because we can’t prove it’s a duck. It is so lame.

Mollye Barrows:                It’s unbelievable.

Mike Papantonio:             What’s the margin that this came out?

Mollye Barrows:                Five to four and it was interesting because I read part of the decision, at least one of the justices was saying over and over again, it is with a heavy heart that I descend to this decision because basically I feel like it’s clear that gerrymandering has occurred. So it comes from these two states, North Carolina and Maryland, and they both essentially made the same claims, except they said North Carolina had been redistricted in favor of Republicans and Maryland had been redistricted in favor of Democrats. And so they both were at the lower courts, had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and it went to the Supreme Court and they said the same thing. Oh boy, sure looks like y’all been gerrymandered but we sure can’t do much about it. So what a shame.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I mean you have the evidence there.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, it’s not like the, the, the evidence is clear that it’s politics.

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             So the Supreme Court then says, well, we can’t subjectively read politics into it.

Mollye Barrows:                You states are going to take care of that yourselves.

Mike Papantonio:             Right. Okay. They’ve got, they’ve got history. They know what the history is. They’ve got the repetitive nature of how odd the gerrymandering is. That’s evidence.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Certainly, you have plenty circumstantial evidence to decide. The third part of it is that the law makers themselves…

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Will, we can’t get them under control. That’s what’s missed in this you see. In the, in this whole analysis, the Supreme Court goes to this checklist, oh well we can’t prove this. We can’t prove, it’s like, it’s like circumstantial evidence.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And they ignore the fact the thing they don’t take into consideration is it’s pretty evident than in a Republican state, you’re going to have Republican gerrymandering.

Mollye Barrows:                Of course.

Mike Papantonio:             In a democratic state, you’re gonna have Democrat. So what’s your take?

Mollye Barrows:                Well, basically the Supreme Court again punted to the states and they said that the lower courts are going to have to deal with this on a state level. So that does give states, the Democratic Party, some power in for instance, if they want to go into a state like Pennsylvania, which recently had some redistricting, which helped out Democrats. So they can say, hey, even though we’re not going to get any help from the Supreme Court, in fact, Michigan just ruled that a redistricted map there in April was gerrymandered. But it was a federal court that made that decision and because of the Supreme Court’s rule, they had ordered that map to be redrawn and now it doesn’t have to be redrawn. So that happened in Michigan. But at the state level, they can still do more things like set up commissions that help with the process of oversight and they want them to be nonpartisan. And Republicans, as you might imagine, are not really on board with that. So they’re preparing to fight any organized democratic effort on a state level to do that.

Mike Papantonio:             I, I can make a prediction right now and there’s people, I mean, there are people that do what I’m about to say. There are people that can sit down and look at the gerrymandered map, specifically run algorithms on the gerrymandered map and tell you who’s going to be the next president.

Mollye Barrows:                Yeah, they even talked about that in this decision.

Mike Papantonio:             They can tell you who’s going to be the next Senator.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             There’s no guesswork. So, so voters basically feel disenfranchised.

Mollye Barrows:                And they’re right.

Mike Papantonio:             Because I gotta tell ya, if you look at this map, Trump’s gonna win again.

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             And the people

Mollye Barrows:                And that’s the goal, isn’t it?

Mike Papantonio:             The people who, who do these algorithms will tell you, you know, it’s not just the Democrats have put together a clown like quality candidates. It is that I don’t care if you had the perfect candidate, the gerrymandering map makes it so difficult to, to win and these algorithms work on just being able to go, taking the detailed time and and analyze each gerrymandered kind of area and tell you what’s going to happen in the election.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, and then what’s interesting about this decision too is they even took some of that math and they went back and said, if you hadn’t done what you had done, then the results would have been x, y and z. Would have been different.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes, yes.

Mollye Barrows:                You wouldn’t have had so many more Republican legislator. You would have had x number of more democratic legislators. So you’re exactly right. Everyone’s perfectly aware of exactly what’s going on.

Mike Papantonio:             And Supreme Court knows this.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Is what I’m trying, I’m trying to tell you, I’m sure that part of the brief, I didn’t read the briefs, I didn’t hear the oral arguments on this, but I’m sure in there they would say they, they could tell the panel judges, we can tell you who’s going to win by algorithms because of the gerrymandering. And what it does is it takes away the interest of the voter to say, you know, I’m going to…

Mollye Barrows:                That’s right.

Mike Papantonio:             I’m going to take my time, I’m going to go fight through this. I’m going to go vote. I’m going to try to make a difference. Because the truth is they really, they really don’t put much emphasison that.

Mollye Barrows:                Well it’s not democracy.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s the bottom line. It’s a blow to democracy.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                If, if, if our are representatives are supposed to be elected by the people and represent the people’s voice, they have effectively taken away that voice. 31 states draw their own districting lines, 31. So for the courts to put that back, that’s great. But it’s basically putting the fox back in charge of the henhouse and saying, do better boys.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah these brilliant…

Mollye Barrows:                We sure hope your grassroots organizations can help out.

Mike Papantonio:             Brilliant state legislators. Mollye, thank you for joining me okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.