tv [untitled] CSPAN June 29, 2009 9:00am-9:30am EDT
host: the discussion streams today at heritage.org, and peter brookes, thanks for being with us. we were turned our attention to the congressional districts in just a moment. >> it is just after 9:00 p.m. eastern. president obama says he is deeply concerned about the ouster of the honduran president, the first military coup there in 16 years. it is expected to be discussed when president obama meet with president uribe today. responding to questions about the house energy bill, the president says it is a net -- an extraordinary first step toward told thinkable warming, but expressed reservations about imposing tariffs on imports from countries who do not similarly regulate greenhouse gas
emissions, saying that at a time when the economy worldwide is still in deep recession you have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals. more on the economy from the state of california. with the government deadlocked over $24 billion hole in its budget the obama administration and the state's congressional delegation say they just cannot hold the state's hand through this one. asked if the federal government should help california with its crisis, democratic senator dianne feinstein, the state's senior senator asked, do know what the state is getting a stimulus money? $50 billion. president karzai is accusing afghan guards of working for u.s. coalition forces, of killing a provincial police chief and at least four other security officers today and it demands that u.s. forces hand over the guards. however, the u.s. military spokesman says no american
forces from any branches including special operations were present or involved in the incident. finally, politico says that mitt romney's campaign team express another run for the presidency -- that is falling in event where former aides and advisers met for fund-raiser to help raise money for the statehouse races of barbara, stuck. but a former campaign workers as it was also a romney political family reunion and added that there is a nucleus of people who should he decide to run will drop everything and go help him again. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span media. "washington journal" continues. host: peter brookes is the project manager for re- districting reform. this comes up every 10 years with the senses, but this is an
issue broader than just the census. what is your organization concerned about? guest: it is concerned about extreme jerrymanders that have been taking place with more frequency and extremism. politicians choosing voters in their districts rather than voters choosing their elected officials. americans for redistricting reform was greeted as a couple of years ago with a grant from the rockefellers to focus to the extent that we can on the fact that politicians when they draw up the strips with a congressional or state legislative oftentimes jury pick their voters to ensure the election of incumbents or create damage to the other party. host: tell us about the role of the census and seven congressional districts?
guest: it will be taken in 2010. our constitution provides for that. once the census did it come out there usually released on a rally basis, beginning 2011. -- when the data canal. when that comes up for each state and we know how many congressional districts in each state will get. usually the state legislature from a but in some an independent commission will then reallocate the population among the districts. over a decade population moves as people move in and out of the stabbing of some states grow, others lose population. there is a formula that congress has set out to determine how many congressional seats to get based on population calculation. they allocate seat number one, then see number two, all the way down to 435.
host: bear some states that have redistricted between censuses -- how are they able to do that? guest: unless the state constitution or law bars them from redistricting more than one per decade, then they're permitted to do that. the most famous example was in texas where in 2003 the texas legislature took the congressional redistricting map and re-redistricted the state even though the head of della plan in place. it goes back to the original question about why americans for redistricting reform was crude. if we allow legislators and politicians every election to look over the results and say that this income of looks like their district is trending and may have problems in the next election, so let's move some bad population out and the the proposition income of the weekend for the will of the voters. host: you mentioned it texas.
to the benefits of republicans. are there states where the streets have jerrymandered for democrats? guest: it is a bipartisan effort. both sides to it. both sides maximize their political power to the extent they can within a state. because congress has a balance roughly of democrats and republicans, even the democrats control the house will, redistricting is essentially a process that allows a party to pick up seats for five elections. if you can redistrict in such a way in a state it until the governor's chair, senate, and house and have you with redistricting. host: between censuses? guest: right. you can minimize the minority party, which everyone it happens
to be, and throughout the decade the party will never be able to recapture the seats taken away. host: our guest is with us until 9:30 a.m. eastern. his the project manager for this organization. there is a bill proposed before congress that would change congressional redistricting. under the bill -- this is john tanner of tennessee as one of the sponsors -- it would have a minimum of five members. redo independents -- where are they and all this? guest: typically, the way that
they work in the states is that major political parties in the last election, the leaders of those two -- it could be independent or green in some states, they get to choose persons to be on the redistricting commission. there's nothing to preclude democrats or republicans from appointing an independent to the commission, but it is usually seen as a process where democrats will. democrats and so on. host: what is your organization's feelings on this legislation? guest: we all pluggapplaud the w makers who have shown leadership on this issue. it is difficult to get income of members of congress to agree that the process by which to get to choose their voters ought to be changed. it is probably the biggest advantage they have. we applaud them for putting this out. we cannot even get a hearing the last time congress meant tanner
introduced this bill. we hope that the leadership in the house know will at least give him the opportunity to focus some sunlight on this issue. because the abuses really undermine democracy. host: we have a call first from cleveland on the democrat's lead. caller: good morning, i want to know the caller would speak more towards ohio in the paradigm shift. for now we have the democratic senate and control of what will make up the portioe board if the reelected. we have seen ohio be very jerymandred for republicans who had control -- finally the democrats took over because they're so out of five. i want to know if you have studied the ohio state map? guest: that is an excellent
question an interesting topic. ohio is an important state with many congressional seats. republicans control process there. redistricting there is done by an independent commission for the state legislature. the districts were gerrymandered by republicans. during the course of the decade in ohio when republicans control the process there was an initiative to take this issue and put it into the hands of an independent commission in a bipartisan way. democrats of course supported it because there were other partou. now the democrats have taken over and you see their interest in coming up with an independent commission. that has really waned. republicans seem to be more interested. host: here is north carolina on the independent line. caller: i just wanted to talk
about how i think it is unconstitutional that democrats, when they have power in office, there will just keep wanting more power. there will obviously take up more districts and when the republicans do not have the power there will be put behind. host: do it you see that happening? guest: it is definitely true in north carolina for the democrats control the governor's chair, the house, and the senate. when you have a monopoly like that on state power you really have the opportunity as a majority party to draw the lines almost any way you see fit as long as they do not violate federal law. you can redistrict in a way to put the minority party in a permanent minority status for the rest of the decade. host: viewers are calling from a number of states. what they cacan they find out fr
website? guest: we have a math of the nation and you can bring up each state. -- have a mpa. ap. -- we have a map. host: back to texas with a twitter. what is the story with taxes now? guest: that is probably one of the best examples that you can use about why it redistricting can really hurt estate. at the time that the 2003 redistricting took place there control the house but not by much will bested by the then
minority leader was to knock off certain democrats. this it was half 110% a partisan effort. they knocked out three people. there were all democrats. those world ranking members of the rules committee, agriculture committee, and homeland security committee. all of those three people got redistricting peoplea point are there now out of congress. then the democrats to control the house. all three of those people would be committee chairs. think about how powerful the committee is, especially for the state of texas -- rules, agriculture, home and security. yet those german ships are held by someone from new york in rules, minnesota in agriculture, and mississippi in homeland security. it has real consequences. host: good morning on the
republican line. caller: what we will see in this next census with obama moving into the white house and letting acorn take over the census, it will be let chicago politics cannot i do not want some criminal from a corn showing up at my friend door and asking me what time i leave for work. -- from acorn. what can they do if we refuse to enter this? it will not be fair. it will be gerrymandered by acorn will sign up every illegal they can find. there will give them the census to fill up as if they are american citizens. host: what do know about the committee group acorn in 2010? guest: i don't know there will have any role in conducting the census. caller is obviously referring to
the widely publicized issues of acorn registering people who are fictitious or duplicative. the thing to remember is that the white house has made it clear after some initial news reports about this that aboutcensus will be conducted only and the part of commerce. that is the way that it should be. it should never be a political football. i would say to the caller that it is important everyone respond to the senscensus. it is used for a variety of purposes. federal dollars are allocated to your state based on a. i would urge people to do what they know under the constitution is their duty which is to respond in as complete a way as possible. i would add it does not matter whether you are a person who is
an undocumented person who happens to be here or whether you are here not as a citizen, but legally. it counts everybody. because everybody who is here is using services. the issue of immigration and illegality is kind of separate. host: our guest is herbert who is a former professor of law. the bank to to this issue? guest: i was in the justice department for 21 years in the voting rights section. i certainly look at a lot of it redistricting plans in that capacity. a lot there in 1994. i have done a lot of litigation and the area of litigation and was retained to represent certain members of the congressional black caucus whose tissues were struck down in the 1990's in wake of the supreme court decision.
-- whose issues were struck dumb. then i was retained as general counsel by the national democratic party's redistricting party, impact 2000. host: is a more democratic or republican party? guest: it is split pretty evenly. republicans control more of legislatures and governorships in states where they had a monopoly. this time you see more split control. neighboring virginia is a good example where you have a democratic governor and senator and republican-controlled house. that means you either compromise to get a plan passed for redistricting, or not in which cases the courts will draw it for you. host: good morning, on the democrats' line.
caller: of like to ask him about the republicans. when they were in office they redistricted around and change everything. now they're talking about democrats. here in tennessee our elections have always been [inaudible] guest: what is interesting is that her comments reflect the frustration many have with the redistricting process. whoever happens to be in power at the time it takes place is really able to draw the districts in a way to minimize competition from the other side. i will say that the supreme court of the united states has said that political gerrymandering is something that can violate the constitution. they have never found it to violate the constitution, but say theoretically you can bring such a case. we brought the texas case to them for texas admitted that
110% of the reasons for redistricting was political, the supreme court turned its back on the challenge. in terms of partisanship i think nearly anything goes. based on that supreme court decision. host: nebraska on the republican line. caller: good morning. this legislation, will it help to solve some of this gerrymandering? especially since rahm emanuel and a corn will be running it? guest: a think use talking to the cantor bill, rather. it is talking about putting it into citizens' hands to draw maps. that must be a good process,
especially if you are concerned about politicians picking who their voters should be. oftentimes the citizens commission will have a lot more redistricting meetings out and open rather than in smoke-filled rooms. host: the issue coming up in new york with an article this morning in the paper writes the state senate -- are the got you down? no worry, the end is in sight. the state senate should be back in business by 2013. an analysis suggests that democrats are poised to gain as many as six seats after the 2010 census, given them an ample margin to untangle the tie that has decimated the senate for the past three weeks. they write, redistricting is
more abstract art than exact science. guest: that is certainly true. the situation in new york is very interesting. what you have had for decades is republicans controlling the state senate and democrats controlling the general assembly and state house. they have had a gentleman's agreement where the democrats and house have been allowed to restrict themselves and not disadvantage themselves and republican senators approved, while the democrats let the republicans in the senate control redistricting. some republicans retained control even as the state got more and more blue. now you have the split. with the york trading as it is, if it is true it is a matter of time before democrats take over the state senate. they actually did, but i believe a couple of democrats switched
parties to create this situation. host: good morning on the democrats' line. caller: thank you for letting me speak to your guest there. i have a question about the fairness of all this. it seems like what happened is during the 1990's, and have worked in civil-rights. there were so intent on getting minority districts that a lot of times but they do in these seven states is to take all the minorities and liberal people and put them into maybe one district to lessen or diluted the voting power and that of the non-working minorities and other districts. -- in other districts. the supreme court seems to think anything you do in redistricting is ok. how would you redistrict the
state that has -- how would you know where to draw the lines if you have a stay with 10 congressional seats and they did not have people register as if they're democrats or republicans? guest: let me answer the last part first. you look at election returns from prior elections to see what presents were voting overwhelmingly for one or the other party. you could measure the way if you did not have voter registration by party. but the callers point is extremely interesting because under the voting rights act states are required to provide states with effective opportunities for minority voters if they can meet certain conditions. it is of redistricting strategy, actually, employed in many cases by republicans to take minorities and pack them into districts to the highest level
for the reason the caller says. because it has an effect of bleaches the adjoining districts, making them more white and more susceptible to democratic losses and republican gains. this is often referred to as the unholy alliance between republicans and a separate groups. host: has president obama weighed in on this? guest: he has and says the process needs reforming. he says a system whereby we let politicians really manipulate the lines from which they are elected -- you know, i have seen politicians draw districts to enter to include certain members of the family within it. or drop a line that goes out just to take a particular potential opponent out of the district so they'll have to run against the person, or first person to move.
even in president obama's book he noted the importance of reforming this process host: here is a twitter message. host: why 435? guest: it has been in effect for about a century and congress can change it. many people think it should be changed. there is a possibility that in the next round some congressional seats will have 1 million people. the u.s. house is supposed to be the people's house. the more people you must represent it in such a district, especially when the lines can be drawn in such a zigzag way --that is not representative
government. if we did have more the districts would be smaller. i think would be easier to have effective representation and be better for voters. host: do other countries set their parliaments up like the united states? guest: we are one of the few western democracies where we have a winner take all system. largely you werare able to keep that seat representative decade. we do differ from almost any place else and in a way that undermines democracy more than supports it. host: this is a republican caller, good morning. caller: you briefly touched on the voting rights act. i wonder if you could give us more details on how the voting rights act and civil rights act impact redistricting.
could you give us details related to geography? related to percentage of minorities? and maybe, the recent supreme court decision, did it affect redistricting at all? guest: good question. with regard to creating the so- called minority opportunity districts, first of all the population itself must be reasonably compact according to the decision to require state to create a district where minorities can play an effective role in selecting a candidate of their tours. geography does play a role. that has the effect of creating districts that are more compact. most people think that is good. there's no percentage of minority voters in a district you have to put in there to create this opportunity under the act.
it varies depending on how much political cohesion there is among minority voters and how much the white block booking -- whites voting against the candidate of choice. the supreme court decision upheld the constitutionality of the act or least punted it for another day. it leaves the status quo in place. but the supreme court seems to signal that if a case comes back down the road it could invalidate the clearance process which would affect redistricting in about host: 16 states the independent line, welcome. caller: thank you. i'm a little nervous because i'm a first-time caller. i like to ask mr. hebert. this is a very important topic. i live in new jersey with the democratic governor who is in a mindset of spend, spend, spend