Tenn. Rep. Jim Cooper taking another stab at redistricting bill

Feb 20, 2017

Congressman Jim Cooper (D) Nashville
Credit house.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Tennessee Congressional Rep. Jim Cooper has again this year filed a bill he believes would end the practice of gerrymandering.

The phrase refers to lawmakers creating congressional districts that include a majority of voters from their party, all but guaranteeing they’ll retain control of those congressional seats.

Cooper has been introducing the same bill for years, but it isn’t likely to fare any better this legislative season than in past sessions.

“The party on top usually hates the bill. The party that’s striving to be on top generally likes them till they get on top then they reverse their position.”

The Nashville Democrat says politicians may have a love-hate relationship with gerrymandering, but political scientists see it differently.

“It’s a curious thing. Most political scientists think it’s one of the most fundamental reforms that we could have – the most necessary and long overdue. But yet we have a hard time passing it.”

Cooper would like to see the bill become law before the next round of redistricting begins following the 2020 Census.

“Take redistricting out of the hands of politicians, and put it in the hands of an independent, non-partisan re-districting committee – a committee of distinguished local citizens. They would decide what a sensible district looks like as opposed to a gerrymandered district.”  

Cooper could get some help from the United States Supreme Court. The Washington Post reports that court cases against gerrymandering in Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina have all percolated up through the appeals process and so may force the high court to take stand on the practice this year.

Ever wondered why Tennessee's Congressional Districts are so oddly shaped? Gerrymandering is the likely answer.