Amicus Curiae lecture to discuss impact of gerrymandering

Gerrymandering in America will be the focus of the upcoming Amicus Curiae lecture by professor Charles A. Smith of the University of California at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8, in Marshall University’s Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

Gerrymandering refers to the illegitimate manipulation of a group of voters and its voting districts to favor a certain party or class.

During his lecture, Smith will focus on the causes and impacts of gerrymandering districts in America, arguing gerrymandering is a genuine and major threat to real democratic representation.

Smith will explore the substantial increase in partisan gerrymandering throughout the country following the Supreme Court’s decision in 2004 case Vieth v. Jubelirer. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled an instance of alleged political gerrymandering of voting districts was not unconstitutional.

Additionally, during the summer of 2017, the Supreme Court delayed to make a substantive decision regarding the issue, leaving the possibility of a decisive ruling in the future.

During Smith’s lecture, he will discuss a constitutional argument which could possibly be used by the Supreme Court to strike down the legality of partisan gerrymandering. He will also explore his reasoning for why it is important the Supreme Court make such a decision and the possible negative impacts if they do not.

Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, which sponsors the Amicus Curiae lecture series, said the series is a gift to Marshall students and faculty.

“The Amicus Curiae series brings experts deeply immersed in their respective fields and listeners onto our campus who have never been here before,” Proctor said.

She said the audience tends to fill the entire foundation hall at Amicus Curiae lectures, and the diversity of attendees is remarkable.

“Our age range for these lectures is probably something like 15 years old to 90 years old,” Proctor said.

Smith’s lecture will be especially relevant considering the mid-term elections just occurred throughout America, Proctor said.

“Gerrymandering is a huge issue in our country right now,” Proctor said. “In America, the minority is in charge because of gerrymandering, but there are ways to solve that.”

Gerrymandering has been an issue in America for decades, she said, and it is essential students and young people take the time to learn about its impacts.

“We have to take time to sit down and learn from these things so we can fix them,” Proctor said. “Students and young people are the future of our country and our world, so it is vital they understand what is going on.”

Douglas Harding can be contacted at [email protected]