Movie star and former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on the Supreme Court Tuesday to "terminate" the practice of gerrymandering congressional districts by declaring it unconstitutional.
"It is a fixed system," the former governor said on the steps of the court while justices heard oral arguments in a gerrymandering case. "It is a system where the politicians are choosing their voters rather than the voters choosing the politicians. I say, let's terminate gerrymandering. Let's say hasta la vista!"
Gerrymandering is the common term for the practice, long used by both Republican and Democratic parties, of drawing voting districts to ensure a particular party a victory by including or excluding certain neighborhoods. Such districts usually have extremely jagged lines to accommodate this.
Critics argue the practice undermines democracy since it prevents competitive elections.
"If you cannot lose the general election, the only way you can lose is in a primary... Most people don't vote in primaries. It is the extremes of the parties that participate," said Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y. "Safe seats mean that politicians don't pander to the general public. They pander to the bases of their party. Moderates get squashed like a bug."
The Supreme Court case, Gill v. Whitford, involves whether a state's congressional districts are so skewed to favor a political party that the Constitution has been violated. The court has never thrown out a gerrymandered district, as the Constitution does not explicitly say how districts should be drawn. Certain laws such as the Voting Rights Act, require that districts be gerrymandered to ensure minority representation in Congress.