Cue Adam Serwer: the cruelty is the point. In a story that deserves a Netflix series, the estranged daughter of Thomas B. Hofeller sifted through her dead parent’s USBs and external hard drives and found a curious document: a study concluding that a citizenship question on the 2020 census would make gerrymandered districts ever more impregnable. He also wrote the DOJ letter stressing that the question would — get this — enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The “Michaelangelo of gerrymandering” did his paymasters proud:
Mr. Hofeller’s exhaustive analysis of Texas state legislative districts concluded that such maps “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and would dilute the political power of the state’s Hispanics.
The reason, he wrote, was that the maps would exclude traditionally Democratic Hispanics and their children from the population count. That would force Democratic districts to expand to meet the Constitution’s one person, one vote requirement. In turn, that would translate into fewer districts in traditionally Democratic areas, and a new opportunity for Republican mapmakers to create even stronger gerrymanders.
Michaelangelo also drew the contested North Carolina legislative districts too; his tints and lines are everywhere. You might recall that the Supremes will deliver their verdict on United States Department of Commerce v. New York in late June. Most observers expect John Roberts and his Furious Five to rule on behalf of the Trump DOJ, for, after all, Roberts began his career in the Reagan White House lab where men and women contemptuous of popular democracy learned their trade. Clarence Thomas is likelier to join Sleater-Kinney than that SCOTUS might rehear the case in light of this fascinating new information.
The last two paragraphs are gems:
Her father, she said, was a brilliant cartographer who was deeply committed to traditional conservative principles like free will and limited government. As a child, she said, she was schooled in those same principles, but every successive gerrymandered map he created only solidified her conviction that he had abandoned them in a quest to entrench his party in permanent control.
“He had me with the idea that we are made to be free,” she said. “And then he lost me.”
The cruelty is the point.