Good government activists Common Cause sent an amicus letter today urging Roanne Mann, the special master charged with drawing the new Congressional lines, not to factor in incumbency when preparing the new maps.
“Common Cause understands that many incumbents may wish to persuade voters of the wisdom of returning them to Congress, where seniority and leadership positions may yield significant benefits for their districts,” the brief states. “Such an argument can and often is made in the context of campaigns, where the merits of such an argument can be weighed and either accepted or rejected by the voters at election time. We vigorously dispute the notion that the benefits of incumbency are so self-evident that incumbents should be aided by a thumb on the scale at the time of reapportionment.”
Last week’s hearing before a federal judge got held up momentarily as the two sides argued over whether or not the line-drawers should factor in incumbency; as the brief states, lawyers representing Republican and Democratic lawmakers argued that the state benefited by having more incumbents in Congress, since more incumbents equals more seniority, and more seniority equals more resources coming back into the state.
The full brief is below: