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Pete Buttigieg wants to make some changes to the Supreme Court, Electoral College, and...

“But when nine out of 10 districts in the Congress are totally uncompetitive because they’ve been drawn in such a way that the politicians actually choose their voters, rather than voters choosing their politicians, in a very naked, transparent, and inarguable way, that election is rigged,” Buttigieg told a crowd of mostly Northeastern University students on their Boston campus Wednesday, referring to the effects of partisan gerrymandering. The South Bend, Indiana mayor — who is expected to officially launch a Democratic presidential campaign on April 14 — said a similar rational applies to the way the country elects its presidents. Buttigieg is hardly the only 2020 contender in the Democratic primary field who supports nonpartisan redistricting and getting rid of the Electoral College. And unlike his competitors, the 37-year-old mayor says those reforms need to include a restructuring of the Supreme Court. “The number of Supreme Court justices has already changed,” he said, referring to the Republican-controlled Senate’s unprecedented blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016. “They changed it to eight,” Buttigieg said. “And then they changed it back after they won.” Buttigieg says arguments that Democrats are introducing the idea of so-called “court packing” often ignores “the extent to which the Senate has already shattered some of these norms.” Critics of the Supreme Court say the institution has recently become overly politicized — and, as a result, more conservative during the Trump administration and likely to strike down any big legislative agenda items passed by Democrats. Both of Trump’s two Supreme Court appointments were recommended to him and bred by conservative political groups. “One that I find very appealing — devil’s in the details, but it’s appealing in principle — is you have 15 justices, but only 10 of them are appointed through a traditional political process [i.e. the president and the Senate], Democrats and Republicans,” he said. For example, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, recently labeled the sweeping government reform bill passed by House Democrats, which would end partisan redistricting in federal elections, as a Democratic “power grab.” “Unfortunately, if your side stands to lose from a more representative system, then it may look to you like the other side is gaining power,” Buttigieg told reporters Wednesday before his appearance at Northeastern.

Getting the Facts Straight on the Electoral College

The most misunderstood institution in our constitutional government is the Electoral College. Let’s begin with the actual words of the Constitution: “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in Congress…” That’s all the Constitution says about how the members of the Electoral College are to be selected. On the right side of the political spectrum, opponents of reform confuse the current “winner take all” method of choosing electors in effect in 48 of the 50 states with the power granted to the states by the Constitution. 45, Madison described the power to appoint electors as an important state power, making the Federal Government “dependent” on actions of the state. Only three states used the winner-take-all method of selecting presidential electors in our nation’s first presidential election in 1789, and all three states repealed winner-take-all by 1800. So, those who claim the current system in effect in 48 of the 50 states was the “founder’s vision” are wrong. The states control how we elect the president, and the method each state chooses should be that method that enhances the state’s power to influence the federal government. Balance is achieved by making each state equally powerful in the process of electing the president. Do “winner take all” laws do that? When we start with identifying the real problem, we will reach the most rational and constitutional approach to a solution that makes every voter in every state important to every presidential candidate in every election.