In the view of the majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, “perhaps the most compelling evidence” that Republicans sacrificed traditional redistricting criteria for partisan gain was a political scientist’s simulation of 500 possible congressional maps.
The Republican-drawn map was an extreme outlier compared with the simulations made by Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan, who has provided expert testimony in many redistricting cases. None of the simulations favored Republicans by anywhere near as much as the congressional map enacted in 2011, which gave the Republicans a 13-to-5 advantage. And partly on that basis, the court ruled that the map violated the state’s constitution.
But what about the remedial map recently adopted by the court? It is not an outlier to the same extent as the Republican-drawn map. But if you look at what 2016 statewide results would have been with the new map, the overall Democratic performance arguably would have been better than in all 500 of Mr. Chen’s simulations, according to an Upshot analysis.
When the elected Republican majority engages in gerrymandering, it’s evil. When judges dictate from the bench to do it, that’s just democracy in action.