Scan the headlines of any major media outlet and you’re bound to see a fulsome condemnation of the way state legislatures pick their district boundaries. It’s an interesting phenomenon given the relative monotony of the process over the years. Every decade, state legislatures use the results of the census to redraw congressional and state legislative districts. Sometimes this is done with a divided government, sometimes it is done with one party in charge. In every case, it is done with political considerations in mind.
This had been the case even before adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Partisan apportionment was known to the Founding Fathers—Patrick Henry actually attempted, unsuccessfully, to gerrymander James Madison out of the first Congress.
In 1811, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry—a signer of the Declaration of Independence—approved a bill adjusting the state’s legislative districts to enhance the power of the Democrats and weaken the influence of the Federalist Party. And thus was born “gerrymandering.”
And so it went for the next two centuries. But Democrats have been making the case that it’s a national evil that must be extinguished since 2010, when Republicans swept state and national elections in the aftermath of the Obamacare debacle.