This 2018 episode covers Elbridge Gerry, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Gerrymandering is the drawing of political districts to give a particular party or group an advantage or disadvantage, and it's named after him.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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now to go along with that. Today's classic is one that we chose on the topic of elections and their episode on gerrymandering, which originally came out on April, eleventh of twenty eighteen, and in this episode we talk about cases that were before the supreme
at the time which related to the issue of partisan gerrymandering that was decided
on June twentieth twenty nineteen in a fight for decision
partisan, gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts. Writing
the majority chief Justice, John Roberts, wrote that quote excessive partisanship in restricting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,
fact that such gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles does not mean
The solution lies with the federal judiciary, so enjoy the accepted and check out why I am voting braver. You get back ass, welcome to see
you missed in history class. A production of I heart. Radio cologne welcomes that upon cast I'm Tracy. We will then how we ride so Eldridge buried, not really a household name.
But unless you start talking about very meandering, which at this point is a household word and is named after him, so just in case-
you're not familiar gerrymandering is the drawing of political districts to give particular advantage or disadvantage to a party or a group, and back when we talked about the way
wings and q earlier this year, we got a number of
Three letters about how we should have specifically said that both major parties and the United States gerrymander, even though we talked about both major parties, doing that in the episode
a lot of those letters also suggested that we should do a podcast on the history of gerrymandering to remedy are obvious ignorance on that subject, but the funny thing was
Our point: it had been a lingering on my short list for a really long time raised on having heredity educated myself. So, if Thou April of twenty eight team just last month, the? U S Supreme Court, heard oral arguments in a gerrymander in case, and they had heard arguments and approved,
this case, the previous October and then the North Carolina case that we mentioned and that Wilmington Q episode was put on hold pending decisions and all that, so it seemed like a good timed actually move. This thing that's been on my short,
as for more than a year up to the top. We
not going to get into the details of the cases that the Ex Supreme Court is examining right now there is a time of very good
liable non partisan coverage? That is very easy to find if you, Google, something like gerrymandering, Scotus or gerrymandering Supreme Court today, show is more about the history of congressional districts and through this Eldridge Gary
Then why and how he became associated with a district that was so convoluted that the whole practice of drawing skewed political districts is now named after him,
swimming, you ask, the word gerrymandering can apply to any political district, but it's most often used to describe state and federal legislative districts. The various states have their own particulars, but for the most part, state legislative districts follow the same basic principles that the congressional districts do, but with different numbers. The United States has four hundred and thirty five congressional districts which are distributed among the states based on their population and that population count comes from the census which has been conducted every ten years since one thousand seven hundred and ninety the census is something that Congress is empowered to conduct
article. One section two of the constitution, so it's right there in the nations founding document. The census is used for a lot of other things as well, but its primary purpose is connected to creating congressional districts
and the idea that the districts will be allocated to the states based on their population is also in the constitution. Also in article one section two, which is amended in section two of the Fourteenth amendment quote, representatives shall be apportioned among the several states, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians, not taxed Indians, not taxed part, is connected to the idea of tribal sovereignty and that at the time, travel persons who were not paying any taxes were not being counted we'll get to that a little bit. More later, all the congressional districts across all the states are supposed to have roughly the same number of people, and although that basic idea has been part of the process from the very beginning
It wasn't until the apportionment ACT of eighteen, forty, two, that the law really spelled out, that every state should be divided into congressional districts, with a single representative elected from each one. The congressional districts themselves are divided in distributed through a process called apportionment which is governed by federal law. These at method of apportionment has changed several times over the centuries and all those methods are actually pretty tricky to explain in the course of an audio podcast. So we will put it this way. It is a math exercise intended to ensure equal representation nation wide. The current system of apportionment goes back to nineteen forty, at which point it was also decided that there were no longer any Indians not taxed, to be factored into the equation. The number of congressional districts cut corresponds to the number of seats in the House of Representatives, so the nation started out
sixty five seats in one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven, which increased to one hundred and five after the first census was conducted apart from a temporary increase between when Alaska and Hawaii became states, and they each got one
and then, when the next census was held, which pointed drawback down, the number has been fixed at for honey
thirty, five, since Arizona and New Mexico became states in nineteen, twelve, the District of Columbia, Port,
Rico. American Samoa Guam, the northern Mariana Islands and the? U S virgin islands are each represented by a non voting. Member of the house, which is separate from the four hundred thirty five voting members, that limit of four hundred thirty five congressional districts means that apportionment is a zero sum game. There are four hundred and thirty five districts to go around among fifty states in each district. Nation wide is supposed to have about the same number of people, so the census reveals that estates population has increased enough, that it requires and other district to keep things balanced out. Another state whose population has decreased has to lose a district to make up for it, since each district is supposed to have a bad
the same number of people? It's not really possible to just add or subtract one in a state without redrawing the entire map and the states have their own laws about exactly how such redistricting should happen in some states, an independent voting
it draws the lines or the legislator draws the lines but is forbidden by law from doing so in a way that favours their own party, but in a lad of states. Redistricting is handled just like any other piece of legislation with a vote
legislature and approval or a veto by the governor. That means whichever party has the majority in the state government, has the potential to put
more influence on the way that the map is drawn throughout all these decades of adjustments to how many districts there are and how they are apportioned. Legislators have tried a number of other tactics to influence the outcome as well. One notorious example is the three fifths compromise, which is an article one section two of the constitution, along with the senses and the idea of apportionment. This was an appeasement to the slave states who wanted their enslaved population to be counted in the senses, so they could get more representation in Congress, but not to be counted in a way that would affect tax asian. So the compromise was to count three fifths of the slave people in each state, which gave the southern states more seats in the house during the apportionment process. That is why the fourteenth amendment specify
the whole number of persons in each state. The idea of the three fifths compromise actually goes back to before the drafting of the constitution and the practice of gerrymandering goes back almost as far to before. The word was even coined. The first recognized example comes from one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight, which was the year after the constitution, was ratified. Patrick Henry was governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia that year and when Virginia was drawing its congressional map, he convinced the state legislature to draw one of its districts in such a way that would force James Madison to run against James Monroe itself. Was it Monroe who was his political ally with deceit, medicine,
the congressional race, but that didn't work out. Madison was the winner there's a twenty eleven paper in the Journal early american studies that argues that these districts were fairly drawn, but people at the time and in the decade since then have been positive. That Patrick Henry was doing this on purpose
James Madison. The winner of that election would later become the fourth president of the United States and during his second term in office, to bring this back around to the subject of the show. His vice president was L Bridge Gary.
And we're gonna talk more about Elbert Gary, who is of course the first statesmen. We all think after we first pause for a little sponsor break. This happened.
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Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead Massachusetts on July 17th, one thousand seven hundred and forty four, his father Thomas, had immigrated to the colony from England and one thousand seven hundred and thirty, and he become a prominent figure in the Marblehead commute.
the family, was also well off, but as devout members of first congressional church, they weren't particularly Shelly about their wealth. L Bridge was one of eleven siblings, although six of them died, while still in childhood, head Gary went to Harvard College where he earned a masters degree in his masters thesis. He argued that the colonies should resist the British.
And after the implementation of the Stamp ACT, he returned to Marblehead after he graduated in seventeen sixty five, where he joined his father's merchant business and became active in the growing movement for independence from Britain. This included serving on a committee to enforce a ban on the sale and consumption of tea,
In one thousand, seven hundred and seventy two Gary was elected to the colonies legislature, the General Court of Massachusetts in May, one thousand, seven hundred and seventy four after the Boston Tea Party, the british parliament passed the intolerable acts which were a collection of laws meant to both
The chief sits the try to bring the colony back in line. One of these was the Massachusetts Government ACT which abolished the colonies charter and replaced most of its elected members of the government, with people appointed by the crown when this happened, the general court reorganise itself, as a provisional government called the Provisional Congress and Albert Gary was part of it,
in one thousand. Seven hundred and seventy six Gary signed the declaration of independence, and then he was elected to the second Continental Congress, where he served until one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine. I did find one report that his term really last until one thousand seven hundred and eighty, but after a dispute about how much to pay suppliers of which Gary was one, he walked out of Congress and discussed and didn't come back. That seems a little incongruous with the reputation that he developed for himself of being very dedicated afterward. There was this one source that I found that made that claim it and all the other sources were going back to that. One- and I didn't find a mention of it in
biography that was written during his lifetime. So maybe that would have happened, but I guarantee, if anybody ever makes a movie of his life that will be included yeah in his work in the government. Elbridge Gerry developed a reputation as being highly dedicated and efficient. He was also obstinate and cantankerous and not afraid to stand by and unpopular opinion. He wasn't nearly as eloquent as speaker as a lot of the more famous founders, but he spoke tirelessly on subjects that he thought were important.
One of the things that was really important to Jerry was independence from Britain. He was relentless and his efforts to convince colonies. There were on the fence about it that independence really was in their best interests. John
is described it. This way quote if every man here was a Gary, the liberties of America would be safe against the gates of earth and hell in one thousand, seven hundred and eighty three after the end
revolutionary war. Gary was elected once again to the nation's governing body, which was now the Congress of the confederation he served until one thousand seven hundred and eighty five and one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven. He was elected as a delegate to the constitutional convention. This was the convention that was established to craft a replacement for the articles of confederation, which it formed the basis for the United States government after the Revolutionary WAR was also what
seiners of the articles of confederation, Eldridge Gary had a lot of extremely strong opinions about how the government that the constitutional convention was creating should work. He wasn't so much behind them.
All men are created equal language from the declaration of independence. He thought that human,
and he had a natural elites and that those elite persons should lead the nation, he also thought that the
Government should take the best elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy and create a strong central government that also delegated significant power to the states, but he wanted limits on the central government that would prevent it from descending into tyranny and he wasn't in favour of having a standing army because of its potential tyrannical uses. He also became one of the most vocal supporters of the great compromise. The constitutional convention was considering two plans for the federal legislature. One was called the Virginia or large state plan which involved a by camera legislature with the states representatives to both houses being determined by their population. The other was the New Jersey or small state plan in which the government would have only one house in each state would have the same number
representatives, neither side was willing to budge and the constitutional convention came to a complete deadlock. The Connecticut compromise or great compromise was a combination of the two proposed plans by camera legislature, in which one
I had the same number of representatives for each state and the
our house had a number of representatives based on the states population. This is what we have today, so this plan is most often
Souci aided with Oliver Ellsworth than Roger Sherman, who largely proposed it. But Eldridge Gary was the chair of the committee that was responsible for coming up with a compromise, and he was one of its most strident and vocal advocates. He called for cod
her eyes again and again during this process, and he pointed out that if the constitutional convention did not reach a successful end quote, we shall not only disappoint America, but the rest of the world. Gary's work with the constitutional convention went way beyond the great compromise. He also advocated for checks and balances, including Congress being able to overrule a presidential veto. He call for provisions for impeaching. The president, saying quote: a good magistrate will not fear them in a bad one ought to be kept in fear of them. He opposed direct elections because he thought it too easy for the voting population to be misled, but when proposals were raised to have Congress Elect
president, he argued that would make the president too dependent upon the will of Congress. He suggested having state governors elect the president instead, but in the end L Bridge Gary wasn't happy with the constitution that the correct that the convention created and he refused to sign it. He thought there weren't enough protection of individual liberties and he propose the addition of a bill of rights and the constitution today does have a bill of rights.
its, but that didn't come along until after it was ratified. Even though Gary was highly critical of the constitution as it was drafted once it was sent for ratification, he toned down is criticism. He still had his objections, but he thought of the state's didn't ratify the constitution. The nation would either fall apart or dissolve into a civil war. Ratifying the constitution in amending it later was the lesser of two evils. So, during and after the ratification process he kept advocating for amendments and a bill of rights, the bill of rights was proposed by James Madison before the First United States Congress on June eighth, seventeen. Eighty nine.
cameras. Work with the government didn't stop there. He ran for governor of Massachusetts in one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight and was defeated, and then he served in the House of Representatives from one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine to one thousand seven hundred and ninety three in the middle of all that he married and Thompson and one thousand seven hundred and eighty six and they would go on to have ten children,
at the rate of almost one a year. He eventually became disillusioned with Congress after trying to work through extremely partisan bickering over Alexander Hamilton proposal to assume state debt and establish a national bank, Gary retired, at the end of his second term in the house, and went back to Massachusetts where he lived in Cambridge with his ever growing family
He didn't stay out of politics completely for very long, though, in seventeen ninety six, he was a presidential elector in support of John Adams.
Following year, Adams appointed him as an envoy to France. His mission,
There was not very successful, though this I'll take place after the United States and Great Britain signed the J Treaty and the J Treaty resolve some issues between those two nations. But France thought
is in violation of earlier treaties between the United States and France. So Gary
and the rest of the delegation were then part of the X Y Z affair, which could maybe be authority
so one day the french Foreign Minister demanded a bribe before negotiations could begin
and then the american delegation refused to pay that bribe. This all blocked.
Into an undeclared naval war that lasted until one thousand eight hundred and one Gary was in and out of politics before being elected governor of Massachusetts in one thousand, eight hundred and ten, it was during his term as governor of the term gerrymandering was coined which we're going to get right back to you in a moment after the gerrymander, he ran for re election and lost in one thousand, eight hundred and twelve, but that's a mere James Madison tapped him to be his presidential running mates, hoping to win the vote. Madison lost Massachusetts, but he won the presidency,
and Gary served, as vice president, with the same cantankerous diligence as he did. The rest of his career Gary died in office on November 23rd, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen, while on his way to the Senate, is buried at congressional.
Hurry and the monument over his grave bears a quote from him quote: it is the duty
every man, though he may have, but one day, to live, to devote that day to the good of his country, which makes it kind of say
that his legacy today is a practice that frequently criticised as being to the detriment of the country and its democratic process, and we're gonna talk about that after we have a quick sponsor break
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Albert scary, signed the declaration of independence and articles of confederation. Tea was an unflagging presence at the constitutional convention. He chaired the committee that came up with the great compromise and was one of its most vocal supporters. At a time when the constitutional convention was it
a total collapse. During his inaugural address, when he was elected governor of Massachusetts, he called for an end to partisan in fighting and for the political parties to work together, but today his legacy boils down to one word: gerrymander, something that goes directly against the democratic ideals he championed during his legislative career. The map that led to the term was drawn from Massachusetts State Senate districts before eighteen, twelve, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had Senate districts that followed county boundary lines, but that year, democratic Republicans in the state legislature Ree drew the map to give themselves and advantage by packing,
the federalist vote into only a few districts. This new map was filled with bizarre shapes that the federalists described, as quote carvings and mangled things the district the governor gave
live then was shaped roughly like a lower case are tilted backward Gary, wasn't fully in support of these carved mangled districts in the words of contemporary biographer James T, Austin quote to the governor of the project of this law was exceedingly disagreeable. He urged his friends strong arguments against its policy as well as its effects after it had passed both houses. He hesitated to give his signature and meditated to return it to the legislature with his objections to its becoming law,
but being satisfied that it conforms to the constitution. He doubted whether against precedence to the contrary, the private opinion of a governor on a mere question of propriety or policy would justify the interposition of his negative and he accordingly permitted it to pass so that basic
boiled down to well, it's not unconstitutional. I was really only part of it when he approved these districts on February 11th, one thousand eight hundred and twelve Gary who had long resisted joining a political party, but was now a democratic Republican, was highly concerned about what the Federalist Party was doing. But you thought that federalist criticism of President James Madison's foreign policy bordered on treasonous. He also feared that the Federalist
He was becoming too close to Great Britain, any worried that Federalist secretly wanted to roll back american independence and return to the british empire. It is extremely likely that all of this influenced his decision, page too, of the Boston Gazette on March, twenty sixth eighteen, twelve included and a included picture of Gary's disk,
The district southern end at the bottom of the are ended in talons and the northeast corner had a dragon like head, two wings, sprouted just below the eastward banned at the top of the are in this picture rain. Under the heading, the gerrymander, followed by a scathing article that began quote the horrid monster of which this drawing is a correct representation, appeared in the County of Essex during the last session of the legislature
couple of different versions about who exactly coined the term gerrymander the common theme and all of them is that somebody pointed out that this long bent district look like a salamander than somebody else responded with something along the lines of no. No, no, it's a Gary manner and one
version of this story. It happened over dinner with illustrator Elkanah Tis Dales, drawing snaky looking version of the map and poet.
It turns out being the one to say no a manner and another version. It started with Boston Gazette editor,
been Russell hanging. A map of the district over his desk and artist Gilbert Stuart see
it there and adding on the wings head and talents, and then Russell was the one to say that it was a Gary manner.
Gary meandered map had exactly the effect that the people who drew it wanted in the election that followed democratic Republicans, earn twenty nine seats, while the federalists earned eleven, but in terms of the number of votes, democratic, Republicans, God, fifty thousand one hundred sixty four votes, while federalists got fifty one thousand seven hundred sixty six. So while the federalists got the majority of the votes,
those votes earn them well under half as many seats in the Senate as Gary Manner became part of the political Lex com, it's pronunciation gradually shifted to gerrymander the way that we say today when it was included in Webster's dictionary and eighteen sixty four. Apart from that political cartoon of the the Gary manner. Opponents of the Massachusetts redistricting during Eldridge Gary's term, as governor said quote, inflicted a grievous wound on the constitution and partisan gerrymandering has been similarly criticized, threw out american history when the Virginia Legislature created the map to force Madison to run against Monroe newspapers reported that it was violating the rights of the people to choose their representation in the government President James Garfield, while he was served
the House of Representatives said that gerrymandering was indefensible, no matter a person's politics, and this criticism continues until today, although there are definitely cases when politicians are more critical of the other parties, partisan gerrymandering than of their own Ronald Reagan called
meandering, a national scandal and Barack Obama said quote. We ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts. Are the politicians can pick
your voters and not the other way around. Let a bipartisan group do it, but there have also been attempts to use gerrymandering in a positive way. After the Voting Rights ACT of nineteen, sixty five, a number of states created one or more congressional districts that were meant to guarantee at least one black representative from that state. Sometimes the creation of these majority minority districts was called things like benevolent or affirmative gerrymandering states that had a history of discriminating against black voters had to have their voting laws. Pre cleared at the federal level before they can be implemented, and there were cases where states were ordered.
To read rather maps to add majority minority districts, but this thick contentious issue. Since these districts concentrate minority voting power into one place. It deletes that power in the rest of the state, and there have also been cases in which lawmakers use the creek
son of majority minority districts as a smokescreen deliberately packing the district to give themselves an advantage in the rest of the state. So
the day and handsomely created majority minority districts are usually only going to be found constitutional when they really are absolutely necessary and my a cover for partisan gerrymander hang. The supreme Court is made it clear that racist gerrymandering to prevent minorities from having an equal political voice is unconstitutional, and it is also issued a number of decisions related to apportionment and other aspects of redistricting. But it has taken a clear stance on partisan gerrymandering before this point,
We could change with the cases currently on the dark it. Ideally, political districts reflect the people living in the district, so there will always be districts that reliably vote for one party or another, and the general consensus up to this point has been that some degree of
An influence on how the districts are drawn is probably constitutional and to be expected, but with the Supreme Court is looking at right now.
is mainly partisan, gerrymandering that followed the twenty ten census, which is being described amusing using is quote as extreme. According to the authors of the twenty sixteen
book gerrymandering in Amerika from Cambridge University Press, partisan, biased, roughly tripled in district maps in twenty ten verses, two thousand also in twenty ten, was an election. That's our huge republican gains in state legislatures and governor ships, which means that this point gerrymandered districts are skewing republic in about three to four times as often as their skewing democratic, like we set at the top of the show in most states, whichever parties in Qatar
The state legislature has the most pole in how the map is drawn tat we got a lot of
Parties have always been doing this after the Wilmington,
You episode but leg the parties that another there
we ve been doing this to the extreme or scale that they are right now, which is how this is again in front of the Supreme Court.
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