As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a major case about the partisan drawing of legislative and congressional districts, anti-gerrymandering activists staged protests just outside. Among them: Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“It is a fixed system, that is what gerrymandering is all about,” Schwarzenegger told the crowd that included activists from groups like Common Cause and Represent.Us.
He said that only a Supreme Court decision to end extreme partisan gerrymandering could change the system.
“Einstein already said a long time ago that the ones that create the problem cannot fix it, and so Congress would never ever fix the problem because they have one interest and one interest only, which is to stay in power,” Schwarzenegger said.
He also noted that Congress’ approval rating was at 16% and that “herpes and colonoscopies are more popular than Congress, but 98% get re-elected.”
He attributed the failure of Congress to act on issues like immigration, infrastructure, universal health care, and the national debt to the carving out of districts so that lawmakers face little challenge for re-election.
“It is time to terminate gerrymandering,” he said.
Schwarzenegger sat in on oral arguments in a case challenging the way that the state of Wisconsin, under control of Republicans, has drawn district boundaries in their state. According to legal observers, the court’s liberals seem to side with groups challenging the district maps, while conservatives were skeptical of stepping in on an issue that could have far-reaching political ramifications. As in many cases, Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to be the swing vote.
Schwarzenegger was a champion of redistricting reform when he was governor, and backed ballot initiates in 2008 and 2010 that put the power of redrawing districts in the hand of a commission rather than state lawmakers.