The word "gerrymander" was born on February 11 1812. Gerrymander was defined as a practice of redrawing the political map by dividing a city, state or county into voting districts in such a way as to give power to the party conducting the arrangement of towns a majority in the electoral districts or a decided advantage in the next elections of state senators. 

Gerrymander derived from the name Governor Elbridge Gerry who signed the bill redistricting Essex County, Massachusetts, into law and "mander" came from salamander (a lizard) which the election district looked like. 'United Press International' reported, "Editor Benjamin Russell hung the map on his office wall. When painter Gilbert Stuart walked in and saw it, he recognized the outline of the unsightly monster and labeled it 'salamander', whereupon Russell screamed, 'Salamander! I call it Gerrymander.'"  

Lynn Poole wrote in a Johns Hopkins University bulletin back in 1964, "Elbridge Gerry was one of the U.S. most prominent early patriots. He attended the continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, took part in the constitutional convention, served in the first Congress and later as a diplomat. He was twice elected Governor of Massachusetts, and died in office 150 years ago this year (in 1964) while serving as Vice-President of the United States under James Madison. 

"Despite his loyal service to state and nation, Gerry’s name has been forgotten today (in 1964) – except, that is, for its use in one of the most unpleasant terms in our political lexicon, the gerrymander … We hear a great deal about gerrymandering in these days of malapportioned legislatures and redistricting measures, but we rarely pause to think of how this system began, or how it got its name … 

"The term was actually unfair to Governor Gerry, it is said. He did not sponsor the redistricting measure and he signed it with some reluctance … It is because of gerrymandering and legislative malapportionment (which is roughly, gerrymandering by inertia) that the United States, though it has become a preponderantly urban nation, remains to a large extent under the sway of rural lawmakers." 

"Since 1812," Associated Press noted in 1985, "the major political parties have continued to engage in the practice of drawing voting lines to favor their own – and complaining bitterly when they receive the short end of the redistricting stick. Today (in 1985), reapportionment has become a major power struggle as the party in power in each state draws state legislative and congressional district boundaries in ways that ensure election of that party's candidates." 

It was understood, "Redistricting, both for Congress and state legislatures, occurs every 10 years when the federal census reveals population shifts among existing districts. For a party in control of a state legislature, the power to redraw lines has long been seen as one of the natural laws of politics." In June 1986, it was reported, "The Supreme Court, for the first time, said gerrymandering can be unconstitutional even if the districts do not violate the 'one-person, one-vote' standard." 

At the time, then Indiana Democratic State Chairman John Livengood told the press, "I think one of the things the Supreme Court has done here is put a chilling effect on political gerrymandering. It is encouraging that a majority of the court for the first time ever said political gerrymandering is unconstitutional." Dr Lew Irwin wrote the 2002 book 'A Chill in the House',  about changes in the U.S. House of Representatives, informed the public in the Observer-Reporter in 2003, "After refusing for decades to get involved in cases involving politically motivated redistricting, or gerrymandering, in December (2003) the Supreme Court will hear the case of Vieth v. Juberlirer (number 02-1580), and the stakes are as high as they can be for Republicans and Democrats alike." 

Associated Press reported in 2003, "The case is important because of the high stakes in boundary-drawing for political parties. States must redraw boundaries after every census to reflect population shifts, and legislatures and political parties have begun using sophisticated computer analyses to ferret out the best places to pick up more seats." Constitution law professor Jonathan Turley at George Washington University told the press the case "puts the Supreme Court in a terrible bind. The court has historically avoided political questions, and respected the public to render its own judgment on the propriety of political maneuvers or tactics." 

"Prior to 1966," Dr Lew Irwin continued, "the Supreme Court avoided involvement in redistricting cases altogether, declining to hear what it saw as being essentially 'political' questions. In viewing redistricting squabbles in this way, the court routinely operated on the premise that the Constitution held no clear position on questions of schemes of representation and therefore such questions were outside its purview."

'The Washington Post' columnist William Raspberry made the comment in 1993, "Why can't the Supreme Court simply interpret the Constitution and stop making law? The late Arthur S. Miller, who taught constitutional law at George Washington University, used to say that judges – especially Supreme Court justices – can't avoid making law. What brings Miller to mind this time is Monday's (June 28, 1993) Supreme Court decision to order a review of North Carolina's 12th Congressional District, a piece of draftsmanship that practically redefines the word gerrymander …

"Politics is not about consistency but advantage. Art Miller's caution was to those who so earnestly believed they could find the right answers to these perplexing – and shifting – questions by recourse to the intent of 'the framers'. 'Nonsense!' he'd shout. 'You're just not going to find the answers, because they aren't there. Every generation of Americans writes its own Constitution.'"

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