Race-Conscious Independent Redistricting Commissions: Protecting Racial Minorities’ Political Power Through Rules-Based Map Drawing


The United States is changing, and its democratic process must change with it. A new non-white majority is emerging after decades of demographic shift. Federal voting rights doctrine, developed throughout the Civil Rights Era, is premised on a biracial conception of American society. Withering under sustained attack, federal protections have also become antiquated in a rapidly developing multiracial society. Congressional inaction, along with the Supreme Court’s seeming hostility to federally enforced voting rights protections, has left states as the primary means to create fairer democratic processes, especially when it comes to redistricting. While some states have taken the vital step to improve their map drawing processes by creating independent redistricting commissions, there have been limited new state-level protections aimed at defending minority voters’ electoral power in redistricting. Independent redistricting commissions are an attractive vector to create additional protections. Such protections can both protect minority voters’ electoral power during the map drawing process, and give minority voters the evidentiary record necessary to enforce these new protections through litigation. By targeting both redistricting requirements and the process’s transparency and accessibility, independent redistricting commissions could be a robust tool to ensure multiracial democracy.

About the Author

Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Cooley LLP at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Democracy Project; J.D.; David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy and Critical Race Theory Program, UCLA School of Law, 2022; B.A., Northwestern University, 2015.