New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 8, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Reagan needs to check on troubled alliances, see below
Dave Kraaaer* General Manager Hobart Jobaeoa, EditorJames Kilpatrick
IAre judges ruling on reapportionment?
Back on Dec. 13, a three-judge federal court in Indiana plunged deep into the political thickets of reapportionment. Curiously, the court’s opinion drew little attention in the nation's political capital until The Washington Post picked up the story last week. Now speculation is buzzing. Is the ancient and dishonorable practice of gerrymandering soon to succumb to the decrees of federal judges?
It could be so. At the Republican National Committee, word of the Indiana decision brought cries of jubilation. Especially in California, but in Illinois and other states as well, Republicans have been the victims of wickedly partisan redistricting on the part of Democratic state legislatures. The ironical thing is that in Indiana, it was the Republican Party that was found guilty of gross impropriety. The Republicans had drawn lines for state legislative seats with such partisan eyes that the Democrats were crying foul. The Democrats sued and worn their case.
The losing Republicans will take their appeal of right to
the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court also will be asked to order trial of a long-pending case in California in which the Republicans charged that they were victims of Democratic skulduggery — as indeed they were.
The consequences of all this litigation could be politically blockbusting. In the 1984 congressional elections, Republican and Democratic voters divided almost evenly across the country as a whole. Republican candidates got 36,576,000 votes; Democratic candidates got 36,615,000 votes. But congressional district lines had been so expertly jiggered by Democratic legislatures that the Republicans wound up with only 182 seats in the House, the Democrats with 253.
The three federal judges in Indiana (by a 2-1 vote) held that such partisan fund and games violate the Constitution’s command of “equal protection of the laws.” Their ruling goes beyond anything yet commanded in the history of reapportionment cases, but the Indiana court had almost an engraved invitation from the Supreme Court to do what it did.
That invitation was concealed in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision of June 22,1983, in what is known as ‘‘the New Jersey case.” Following the census of 1980, the New Jersey legislature, then controlled by Democrats, drew new boundaries for congressional districts. The new districts were marvelously close in population, but they had been so ingeniously drawn that outraged Republicans brought suit.
Speaking for the Supreme Court, Justice Brennan threw out the New Jersey plan, not because the population variation among the districts were too high, but because these superficially beautiful figures had not been arrived at ‘‘in good faith.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Stevens went to the key element of “good faith.” Gerrymandering may be acceptable, he said, but only up to a certain point. Too much jiggery-pokery may violate the Equal Protection Gause. The dilution of the voting strength of a political party, said Stevens, may be just as unconstitutional as the dilution of the strength of a racial bloc. Stevens hinted
strongly that, given an opportunity, he would look with disfavor on any redistricting plan that has a ‘‘significant adverse effect on an identifiable political group.”
“A finding that the majority deliberately sought to make it difficult for a minority group to elect representatives may provide a sufficient basis for holding that an objectivity neutral electoral plan is unconstitutional.”
In a separate opinion, Justice Powell echoed these views. ‘‘I believe that the injuries that result from gerrymandering may rise to constitutional dimensions,” Powell said.
There are six reasonably predictable votes on the high court to put an end to the kind of indefensible chicanery in which both parties have indulged in the past. My own concern goes to giving federal judges even more supervisory powers over essentially state political processes. This is not a happy prospect, but it’s not easy to find anything good to say of the unfair rules by which the game is played right now.Your representatives
Gov. Mark White Sen. Lloyd Bentsen
Governor's Office United States Senate
Room 200 State Capitol Room 240 Russell Bldg
Austin, Texas 78701 Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. John Traeger Rep. Edmund Kuempel
Texas Senate Texas House
Capitol Station of Representatives
Austin, Texas, 78711 P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78769
Sen. Phil Gramm United States Senate Washington D.C., 20510
Rep. Tom Loeffler U.S. House of Representatives 1212 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, D.C. 20515
Rep. Mac Sweeney (Guadalupe County) U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C., 20515Washington TodayReagan overlooking weak links in alliances
By R. GREGORY NOKES AP Diplomatic Writ ar
WASHINGTON - When President Reagan said in his State of the Union address that
defense pact with Australia and New Zealand and the nearly ignored 1947 Rio Treaty.
There also are problems in NATO, the nation’s most important military alliance,
Reagan doesn't always like to admit things are not going well. So, just as he didn’t mention Lebanon in his address Wednesday night, after giving it prominence a year ago, he also chose to ignore the unraveling of the ANZUS pact with Australia and New Zealand in the past week.
Reagan persisted Thursday, telling reporters, ‘‘Our ANZUS alliance is very sound and very solid.”
But a senior State Department official conceded to reporters later that ‘‘New Zealand could hardly be said now to have the status of a good ally.”
It’s an unfortunate imbroglio because New Zealand has long had a successful democracy and has been among America’s closest allies.
The falling out has come over the attitude of New Zealand’s new government toward nuclear weapons. It doesn’t Uke them. And although it continues to express friendship for the United States, it decided last week to bar an American warship that might be carrying nuclear weapons.
Washington was dealt another setback by the third ANZUS member, Australia, which this week canceled an earlier offer to provide support faculties for American MX missile tests.
Although they are nothing so serious as to what is happening in ANZUS, there are also strains in the 17-nation NATO alliance.
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger this week accused the socialist government of Greece, a NATO member since 1951, of stirring up ‘‘very damaging anti-American feeling" that he suggested may have encouraged the terrorist bombing at an Athens bar Saturday. That blast injured 69 American servicemen and their dependents.
The third U.S. regional defense alliance, the 1947 Rio Treaty for the Western Hemisphere, generally has been bypassed in the current Central American conflict, even though one of its purposes was to formulate peaceful resolutions of disputes.
The other major post-World War II alliances, SEATO and CENTO, are all but forgotten. SEATO, for Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, was dissolved in 1977 after the Vietnam conflict. CENTO, for the Midrib East, was disbanded in UTL
“our alliances are stronger than ever’ was overlooking the breakdown in
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